21 July, 2005

Ready to quit

Yesterday I met Raymond Browning who has been a alcoholic for about twelve years. His drinking started when he left his native Liverpool and found himself in London after a night of drinking in his local pub which was in Liverpool by the way. He made up his mind to stay and try and get a job. So with just a few pounds set about this challenge and as you can guess with no luck. He has had a number of casual jobs in the last twelve years but he says the government has made it hard for someone like him to get casual work. He used to go to a job center near Bond St,London. Because he had no form of ID he couldn't register for a days work. Which you have to by law, for tax purposes and if you're claiming benifit you can only work for a few hours and earn twenty pounds. So he started drinking more and more. He then lost his flat because he couldn't pay the rent because he was literally drinking it. On Monday I did a few hours voluntary work at a night shelter in the West end and Raymond came in worse for wear but he hadn't had a drink that day. So calls were made on his behalf to get him in somewhere. It's funny really because I have been in that same situation. Phone calls after phone calls were made to hostels, most knew the name and most said sorry, but he was kicked out for his behavior and drinking. Phone calls to rehab centers said they were mostly full or that he needed to be assessed and that would need an appointment. Then we had one positive call back from the Salvation Army hostel who took him in. He says he hopes he can stay off the drink because that is his downfall. I explained to him that kicking a habit is not that easy. But I shall keep up with Raymond and let you know his progress. He says I can take a photo of him in a few weeks time when he looks and feels somewhat better.
I feel it's people like Raymond that are forgotten. They are just seen as drunks living on the street with not much hope of improvement. I think sometimes people just forget that they are actually people. If someone had not of seen me as a person maybe I wouldn't be writing this blog today. Maybe you'd still be seeing me begging on the Southbank.


czechant said...

Stories like Raymonds are important,as it is too easy for members of the public to deny our shared humanity and to forget that the person sitting there is someone's son, perhaps someone's father. Our sense of powerlessness and guilt often translates into hostility, and a desire to see the streets cleared of these 'unwanted elements', yet no one chooses the only positive step, which is to take a few minutes of of one's day, sit down and chat to this person, not be caught up in our society's suspicion at altruism and our own fear of the unknown. Having volunteered at the drinker's shelter, my whole perspective has been changed, yet for the rest of the year, there is very little for people like Raymond or thousands like him to look forward to apart from abuse, violence and another sad, lonely year. If the way we treat our society's most vulnerable members is a sign of how healthy we are as a society, on this front, we fail miserably.

Marian said...

Unfortunately pessimistic yet extremely realistic.
I got the chill!

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