28 December, 2006
27 December, 2006
One day last week I was in the west end of London and we saw a homeless man who we thought was asleep on the pavement. It transpired that he had a heart attack but that wasn't what got to me it was the amount of people that just stepped over him. I can remember one MP or lord somebody sometime ago commenting that he had to step over homeless people when he came out of the opera and that there was no reason for it.
Have we really become that immune to people in trouble? Have we become a society that would rather tend to a sick dog than a sick person? I have had my troubles over the years and like so many i not given a second glance. It was only when people treated me with compassion one Christmas that changed my life. I now hope like so many people that have given up their time at Christmas to help others in need that we never forget that showing a little compassion is what makes us a part of a better society, a caring society but lets not just show it at Christmas. Homelessness is not only at Christmas for some it a life time of nothing.
25 December, 2006
At Christmas things only become more meaningless as memories are drowned by booze and drugs and the future well, what future? There isn't one, not one you can see anyway. It's funny but Christmas is a time of hope during the year there isn't much of that about.
All the volunteers at the crisis open Christmas give that just by standing around guarding doors and just talking to people that during the year would normally be ignored. Showing people that they are normal gives the first glimpses of hope and who knows what follows? maybe a merry Christmas.
22 December, 2006
Forty Christmas’s have been and gone since homelessness was brought to the fore and we are still talking homelessness and what it does to people’s lives. The myth that these are the people that want to live this way was dispelled years ago. I have been there are lived the life not by choice but out of sheer necessity. Having been there I know what homeless people are going through. When you first arrive on the street there is a certain apprehension but no clue as to what will happen there is also a mild fear but there is that hope that everything will turn out fine and nothing phases you until it gets cold and rains and you’re soaked to the skin or you have no money in your pocket and are really struggling to survive. This is what I call the desperate days. When you think about stealing and you start off buy shoplifting bars of chocolate just to ease the hunger you feel then you find out that there is a soup van that gives out free tea and sandwiches. So you become part of the homeless crowd waiting for it every night. It’s then you notice people look at you in a certain disapproving way. Then one day you get fed up of having nothing. You pluck up the courage to sit down and beg because that’s all that’s left for you to do. You sit there looking down at the floor not wanting to look into people’s eyes because you’re ashamed but after a while and days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months, months into years. You get used to it. It becomes away of life. You start to mix with other homeless people who get by drinking or using drugs and in the blink of an eye you find yourself doing exactly the same. By the time you realise you have a habit it seems its too late and there is nothing left but the daily chore of drink and drugs that’s how I felt everyday of the week but something changed. I went to my first crisis open Christmas where people treated me as if I was a person not someone to be looked down upon.
I have heard about all these great schemes charities and the government have come up with this year but how do you get someone to take that first step. Crisis has part of the answer at their open Christmas centres and that is normality, being treated like a real person makes a real difference to most homeless people and by engaging them in conversation or just listening is a starting point. Giving people that first glimmer of hope, gives homeless people their first insight into what could be. It’s not about forcing people to conform as some have had terrible lives but it not plain sailing. Some have major drink and drug problems and to add to those ill health. Getting these sorted is a high priority but that is the start, the tip of the iceberg so to speak. There are all sorts of problems and reasons for people becoming homeless and once you start the process of engagement you can start solving the problem the next step I think is re-education. It is just another part of the solution as most people lose their confidence and skills once on the streets and quite a high number of homeless people cannot do the simple things like reading and writing I could not but can now as you can see.
Although there are things in place for sixteen to twenty five year old. In most cases for them it’s a problem of access but if you are over twenty-five lives just gets tougher. There simply is nothing unless you look far and wide and then its just luck in finding something. Then there is what is called the revolving door people repeatedly becoming homeless. There are several reasons I think they are loneliness, old habits and not being able to cope. Life on the streets may seem simple but let me assure you it’s not.
18 December, 2006
This Christmas where will we be?
Will we be in the heart of a family or friend?
Still with disasters and fences to mend.
Will we be holding the loves of our lives?
Sons, daughters, husbands or maybe our wives.
Will we be reminiscing old times?
Or maybe reviewing old crimes
Yet together whatever.
This Christmas what will we see
Will it be beauty and love in the eyes of a child?
As she opens her toy.
Will it be laughter and smiles as a father plays with his boy.
Will it be the sound of people?
This Christmas will we be true to our hearts
Simple and plain
No demons to tame
Will be wishing for a world that has peace
Where love has a freedom and does not have a leash
Or will it be just twenty-four hours of laughter and smiles
Families and friends.
Coming together to shine
Will this Christmas be that Christmas of hope
A Christmas of change
Of coming together
15 December, 2006
This looks like a scene from a Charles Dickens play but it's not. It's another homeless man sleeping rough. This is what the government say they are trying to eradicated but the question I am asking is how come we have heard quite a lot about homelessness and how it's being tackled, since we found out we are hosting the Olympics or am I just being cynical?
13 December, 2006
Yet somehow it keeps on daily turning.
One day can seem like a lifetime
Yet only a few hours have drifted by
So so many times those silent words come to mind
Oh I wish time would just up and die.
Yet the world tomorrow keeps on turning
And maybe keeps on burning.
But good days appear on many more horizons
Where dreams of canvas splendour
And wishes do come true.
It's just life and always a part of you.
So when that inner rage comes out to play
On a hectic nothing day.
Just sit a little while
Let unused muscles form a smile.
Because tomorrow has yet to show its face
And living, reminds you of the human race
Apart of which you are.
I still go out at night taking photos of homeless people, talking to them which I think is more important. Someone who was walking around with me said they are the dregs of society. Obviously they didn't understand the problem and to me it was an awful statement to make as they didn't know the people they were talking about. I said what if the person sleeping over there was a brother of yours. Would you still be saying the same thing? All of us are guilty at times for forgetting they are someone's sons, sisters, brothers ect: but it all comes down to people perceptions of homelessness. We here the argument that most homeless people are addicted to some form of narcotic or alcohol but is this really true? This Christmas over 1500 people are expected to attend the Crisis Open Christmas not all are on the streets quite afew are, the hidden homeless and need someone to talk to. They also may need to see a doctor or dentist. Making people feel normal and there's more to life than blank days. This is the new direction of crisis the homeless charity they believe in empowering people to make their own choices. Whether your on the streets or not.
06 December, 2006
Housing needs to be seriously looked at.
Drug and alcohol dependency needs to be properly addressed because how can you expect someone to go into a rehab get clean and then re-enter society via the streets again. Its inevitable they will return to their former lives.
Long-term solutions need to be found and funding needs to continue once given. All these issue are relevant to homelessness but while we still try to fix all with just the one solution, then we will always be talking about these issues. Every case of homelessness is different and when we start treating them as such then we might actually see some improvement. You can listen to me rant some more on BBC radio4 at 1230 tomorrow when I interview the hosing minister Yvette cooper.
29 November, 2006
This has to be a first that an ex drug addict and homeless man interviews a top politician. Funny five or six years ago I would have had everyone committed if they'd told me my writing would lead to all this. I am extremely nervous and after yesterday's performance on the radio I am doubly nervous but I think I'm getting the hang of things. So look out for my spot on radio 4. I have already wrote somethings for the BBC web site you can read them
28 November, 2006
Alan was born in Coventry 48 years ago and has always had a problem with drugs and alcohol from an early age. He has been in a number of bed and breakfasts. Plus a large number of shared hostel accommodation. Amazingly he has had 15 permanent bedsits and lost everyone of them because of his problems. Which over the years had grown out of control. It's the type of story that is heard again and again. Then ten years ago when he first tried to get help. He was placed into a hostel and after a while put on the Greenwich housing list. His first permanent council flat was unsuitable because there was no access to the services this man required and the help he did receive once given the flat was short lived. So he ended up drinking once again and living in a flat without a bed. It was full of empty beer cans, there was no electric or gas and he had arrears for water and rent. It took another charitable agency to see that this man indeed had problems and they set about getting this man the help he needed and a more suitable address. Alan has now lived at his present address for four years and still receives help when needed. The fact that this man was given just a roof and limited help only helps justify the need in helping people with aftercare. Sustaining tenancies are important and just giving someone a roof over their head is just not enough. Alan has now been drink free for six months which is further progresson on the ladder to sucess.
Many homeless people who have ended up on the streets of our cities develop problems of drug addiction or alcoholism and some even develop illnesses. Who is to blame is it the person that becomes homeless or societies or is it a government and a welfare state that doesn't work properly.
Preventive measures for helping people at the start of their homelessness are low. It's only recently that people have actually been saying prevention should be one of the main focuses for ending homelessness. As many people know I don't agree with John Bird founder of the big issue most of the time but I have to admit that I do agree with his prevention is better than the cure. In the next few weeks I am trying to interview several people that have been homeless and had several places to live but in each case lost their place because there was not the right help or services. I am trying to show that if you don't have the right kind of services even those that have just arrived on the street can become long term homeless and the problem of homelessness only gets worse not better and I am also trying to show the same about people in temporary accommodation and that while waiting for permanent accommodation letting them stagnate is the wrong way forward wouldn't time be better spent teaching life skills because the revolving cycle of homelessness has to stop sooner rather than later.
23 November, 2006
When councils sold off housing stocks why wasn't they allowed to spend it on new social housing? Oh and wasn't homelessness supposed to be cured within twenty years some 40 years ago?
The fact that we now have people stuck in hostels, in bed and breakfast, sofa surfing, squatting is just another twist is the homeless saga and at the rate it is rising it could reach a million in fifteen years. Governments always come up with facts and figures on housing and homelessness but for a country with the resources we have, should we be still talking about it and should the Government be patting themselves on the back? I did read Ruth Kelly's speech and to me that is what it amounted to. To cure homelessness and to stop me writing about it, more has to be done. Prevention is better than the cure but for the many that are stuck in an endless cycle of homelessness. We need to do that little bit extra. We need to keep making homelessness become a thing of the past. Which at present it is most definitely not. Homelessness today is not just about having a roof over your head it's about learning the skills of life but it's also about learning to live in what people call the real world, society I think you call it but I do sometimes wonder.
22 November, 2006
Facts and figures are all I seem to hear from politicians and such but as I know from my own experiences that's not all that counts. I read Ruth Kelly's speech the other day. The case she makes for tackling homelessness is good but has the government gone far enough or have they in fact just taken homelessness off the streets and created an even bigger problem in what's now being touted as hidden homeless. After all aren't hostels supposed to be a stop gap to permanent housing.
The housing problem all over the country adds to the problems off the homeless. I agree that we have to stop people repeatedly becoming homeless. The Revolving door syndrome as it is known. So shouldn't we be concentrating on housing support once people get housing and the question how long should the support last I think depends on the individual case because every case is different. The thing of how much it cost should be irrelevant as we are dealing with lives and doing it now will definitely save money in the future.
the real question i think now being asked is, is there really an answer to the homeless problem? Homelessness as been around as long as prostitution and if you think about it Jesus was made homeless for a night or two and had to get temporary accommodation.
15 November, 2006
10 November, 2006
09 November, 2006
08 November, 2006
that can be charged. Like in London a one bed roomed flat costs 250 pound a week in some areas that are now being touted as the place to live. Is that a fair rent and who can afford that? Not a nurse or care worker or cleaner. If you are homeless well what chance have you got? Anyway what do I know about these things after all I have my own rented home.
03 November, 2006
13 October, 2006
2 To introduce enforced two day potato couchism as too many people are running and exercising. Not enough enjoying the odd burb and fart after meals. I'd also make it ilegal for anyone to run or cycle along side the Thames and on pavements. What's wrong with a couple of days lazing about and being as a couch potato?
3 Stop Politicians from using archaic words and long winded white papers that can be done simply and easily explained by using plain English. I am like so many members of the public common as muck and like things straight forward and simple.
4 Stop exPrime ministers and exMPs from thinking they can become stars of the future by appearing in things like big brother or come dancing. Don't they realize we've seen enough of them when they where in office.
5 Introduce instant interactive TV where we can really say what we think of our government without being deleted or beeped out because politicians only do what they think we want. Not actually what we want. Actually wouldn't it be great not to hear them at all until they said something we wanted to hear.
These are my top 5 policies
12 October, 2006
11 October, 2006
It seems that even after two world wars we still don’t get it. Will we ever learn that war and violence are not the way forward. I make a lot of noise about murder and a life sentance should mean life but this is a different kettle of fish because we made these great big atom bombs that could bring about the end of the world as we know it and then we had the cheek to say its okay they are merely a deterrent no one else will be stupid enough to build ones bigger and better. guess what they did and if that was not enough they built lots. My question is why build so many? The second was did we really think that nobody else would build them? Because it does seem that way. We go on and on about the state of the world. Yet we spend more and more on tools of war instead of trying to elevate the suffering and poverty in the world. Now we have North Korea building and testing them and they are not a rich country at all. In fact I think they get some form of aid from around the world. How can we justify them not having the bomb when we have them? I know people will say but they live in a dictatorship which is unstable but is it really? The other thing people can say are they spend most of their money on making these weapons but isn’t Korea rebuilding as well. The only way to stop other countries from building bombs is stop building them ourselves. which seems to me to be just plain common sense after all it just takes one mad man to press the button and there's no time to say goodbye.
The other thought was how can this government say they are doing fine. When everything around them is falling to bits? Our NHS is under such a strain that it is virtually on the verge of collapse. Our welfare state is also under such strain it will surely crack. My question is why? Why do we always follow the Americans in solving problems that work over there. Is it because it’s so big? When we elect a government I think we expect them to think of new plans, have new ideas but for this country. Not some crazy schemes that will put us back in the dark ages. It’s funny but years ago Australia and America were full of people from convicts to pilgrims and they are doing better than we are. The people of this country are now beginning to suffer the years of neglect by previous governments. Poverty in this country is still rife. We still have run down estates and now we have crime at it highest level although this government would have us believe that it is in fact down. how can it be when we have more murders more street crime. How can we tell other countries how to cure poverty if we can’t cure our own? How can we say this is Great Britain when it’s just plain and simply Britain? It’s only my opinion but it seems to make sense to me.
09 October, 2006
"I have views and opinions and I want all the candidates to listen to what this means to homeless people across the country." this should be the right of everyone homeless or not
One certain thing that I would have done would have been to eradicate poverty in Britain because I strongly believe that poverty is at the root of most of Britain's social problems and we do in fact have, a have and have not class of society. While we argue over race and whether a Muslim woman should or should not cover her face. We seem to be missing the real problems and we are even now creating ones of race and religion. Why doesn't the PM stand up and say enough is enough and get back running the country as it should be run. Is it that he knows the Labour party is now on it's final leg of government. If I was in government and I was the PM I would still run the country and govern to the best of my ability. If you look back at the Labour parties time in office can you say with certainty that they have done well. Me, I personally don't think so. Besides going to war I don't see a massive improvement in the country. I see the issue of schools coming to haunt them also I see the NHS problems becoming bigger and the arguments becoming louder. The problem I have with this government is how can you plough money into things that are either not working as they should or how can you under spend on things this country needs. Sorry but I am honest enough to say I would put 1p on tax and another half percent on vat. It is because previous governments dare not do these things that we have problems now. Any one voting for me yet?
22 September, 2006
07 September, 2006
I think the bigger question should be, can we as a country cope? I don’t believe so. Everyday on the streets of the capital we have people sleeping rough from other counties more and more are arriving but they are willing to work. What happens when work dries up or we have an employment collapse or monetary problem? I have heard the arguments about there is not enough work for the Brits that were born and bred here but this is untrue as most of the jobs these people take are the ones that Brits wont. It’s funny because this argument has been with us before and seems to rage on and on. In the sixties we had people from Asia and Jamaica in quite large numbers but we coped just fine and we had a rising population then. My worry would be health and benefits and education. At the moment we have a health service that is near to collapse and no matter what the government say or how much money they spend on it. It still seems to be dying on its feet. Benefits at the moment don’t match inflation or the real cost of living and we do have a problem with poverty. This government and previous governments like to tell us every chance they get that things are improving but they should wake up and smell the coffee. Education I think nationally is way lower now than it used to be. not so many schools these days. As a country progresses then everything I think must progress with it. In the fifties and sixties we didn’t have computers and we didn’t have calculators. We had to use our brains. Today we have all the mod cons and rely I think too much on machines to do most of our work for us as in the classroom not enough emphasis is put on real education that’s what I think. Teachers might not agree with me but if you look at society today and how different it is.
Hey I’m old and have lived a sort of life but someone once told me everyone has a talent for something the hardest thing to do is find it.
12 August, 2006
02 August, 2006
27 July, 2006
I haven’t had much time to write this week, what with working and things but I hope to catch up in the next few days.
21 July, 2006
19 July, 2006
I think that when outreach workers who where supposed to find the most vunerable were reduced to what they are they are now. The vital link that was needed to reach the homeless has now been lost and the trust that was built up between homeless organizations seems to be disappearing. Most homeless people don't trust organizations such as favorite. which is crisis because as they put it, being actually homeless has now become a secondary issue. Everyone expects something that most of us can't give and that is our time. We are just busy trying to survive from day to day. Anything more is a bonus. It's funny but I lean towards agreeing with them because although homeless charities are now searching for other means to help alleviate the homeless problem, the fact that in doing so they seem to have forgotten their intent. Their intentions are good but they seem to have lost sight of what homeless really means. It's not just that you haven't got a roof over your heads. Simply, the fact that its so soul destroying and no one gets it unless you have been there. Being homeless isn't the problem. It's the things that go with it and then when you think it's all over there's the stigma that stays glued for a quite while longer. Too really make an impact I feel that homelessness needs to be shown for what it really is and that is to show all aspects of homelessness from start to finish without the gloss over.
14 July, 2006
13 July, 2006
11 July, 2006
Forgive me but you have to remember I have been in a my own world for quite a number years due to my old habits, drugs and drink to be precise and suddenly I don't need them anymore. I've woken up to all these new ideas. So me not being in my hazy world has sort of left me with so many questions and the most the important I think is. Why is life not more important than flying to the moon or curing aids and cancer? Shouldn't we be curing what ails this planet now instead of spending billions on bigger war machines and going further into space because make no mistake. This planet is dying and so are millions of people from hunger and pollution and sickness? It seems to me that while we are gallivanting around the universe trying to find other forms of life that might kill us. We are letting ourselves and our planet die slowly anyway.
I went to the west end to see if I could find some one who has been missing for somewhile now as I was walking down the strand when I bumped into some old faces and began telling me how manic it had become at the soup handouts. So I went along to see for myself. What I saw surprised even me.
This government says there are only a few sleeping rough on any one given night. Well here are at least one hundred homeless at just three soup runs in London's west end.
Then on the way home I spotted a young girl asleep on a mattress outside a shop in londons The Strand. The big double mattress had sheets and stuff and I suddenly had this picture of London being the poverty capital. It doesn't really matter what this government say they have done or are doing. We can see nothing is changing in fact things are only getting worse. The question is why? Now homeless people that are actually sleeping rough are saying, what good is education It wont get us a roof over our heads. All it means is we will be able to read the no vacancy signs. So why concentrate on that when we are homeless and we live by using our wits. Isn't that a sign that we are not as thick as two short planks?
Most homeless people I have spoken to, are angry because they feel they are being left out in the cold once again and soon their voices will once again become a whisper. My own feelings are that now too much is being done in one direction and yes education is important but I have to agree that being educated will not put a roof over anyone's head. It's in this area we should put our efforts. It's like poverty I believe you can't cure poverty around the world till you cure it at home. Strange don't you think that in a country like ours we have poverty and homelessness.