HSBC removes anti-homeless spikes outside their New Street branch in response to public pressure. Jenny Hughes and Nicole Jeary interview UoB student responsible for said petition.

Images by Elliot Brown

Birmingham New Street HSBC branch rips out anti-homeless spikes after a local petition received over 13,000 signatures demanding they be removed. These controversial spikes were introduced as part of a ‘defensive architecture’ movement, resulting in the appearance of anti-homeless spikes all over the UK. A similar petition proved successful in Manchester resulting in the anti-homeless spikes removal from outside of Selfridges.

HSBC claimed that the spikes were there for the privacy of their customers; however one petition signatory protested, ‘Of the many reasons I should be ashamed to be a HSBC customer. This one really hits home.’

Chris Brees, a Politics, Philosophy and Religion student at UOB, organised the petition. Speaking to Redbrick,  Chris explained the damaging effect of anti-homeless spikes, ‘The spikes propagate the idea that they [the homeless] are unwelcome. A lot of homeless people have experiences of abuse and being ignored, this was an architectural way of doing this’.

Being his first petition, Chris felt really great about the result, stating ‘the local people really care about the issue’.

Chris, who first started his work helping the homeless with his Church (Oasis Church, Edgbaston), has launched another petition entitled ‘Let Homeless People Sleep in Birmingham Grand Central Over Winter’. The petition wishes to ‘utilize our space in the city, and create an area in Grand Central where there are beds available to those sleeping on the streets’.

Birmingham has seen an increase in population by 100,000 this year from 2014, putting further strain on housing in the city, thus further restricting the city’s ability to help eradicate homelessness. Faced with this challenge Chris proposes that we must ‘break down barriers in society, and truly show that we care’.

When asked what people should do if they want to get involved with the cause, Chris told Redbrick ‘There are loads of different charities out there: Sifa fireside, run a drop in line, Crisis do a course for employment. There are also lots of group that do things like we do at church’.

If you wish to sign Chris’ petition to house the homeless in New Street over winter visit If you are interested in getting involved through volunteering, you can email Chris at