24 May, 2005

People's perception of homeless people

On Saturday I had this idea of just asking people what they thought of homeless people. The answers where close to what I expected. Here are some of the comments made.
1. They are lazy good for nothing, this came from Ron a sixty two year old that then proceeded to tell me the in my day monologues.
2. Then I had a woman with two children that said she felt sorry for them but it was their own fault that they are that way they should be working not begging for a living.
3. I had a group of students from the states tell me they have the same problem but they do have soup kitchens which are open during the day. I proceeded to tell them that we do have day centers.
4.Then I met one irate man called Nobby who told me the government should do something to remove homeless people from the streets. I told him what the government had done so far and he replied F... Me you couldn't tell the difference could you. (his words not mine) I see them everyday of the week in the same place and I even knows their names. Some of them are a bit rowdy but basically nice fellas when they are not asking for money. After talking to many more and getting answers from most people I stopped. The impression I was left with is that most people assume that homeless people have become homeless through drugs and acholohol and that they themselves are to blame for their predicament. Only a few said they thought it was caused through something else. So my question is how do we break this myth that a large per cent of homeless people are druggies or alcoholics ?

1 comment:

Gixer77 said...

It is a myth that sadly will never be lifted. Norwich where I live has a healthy population of street people and a lot of them gather around the city centre Tescos and proceed to shout, argue, and abuse eachother and other people. Most of them are unkempt and they smell, and they repel people, so people presume they're all like that. I would be scared to approach them and ask them about their life situation and why they are on the streets, I would also not want to give them any money because I too would presume they would spend them on illegal substances. I would be scared to take them and buy them some food or a meal incase they asked for more help, because I'd not know what to do to help them. Then I'd be scared they would get angry towards me. Is that wrong to think like that?

There is also a lovely Big Issue seller further away in the city who is kind, polite, chatty, and very approachable, lots of people stop and talk to him and he tells them proudly how he is 4 months clean of the booze and doing well. This guy I'd not be afraid of chatting to or buing a meal for.