24 May, 2006
Getting into a hostel these days to be truthful involves a certain amount of luck because there are simply not enough beds. Once you become homeless finding a place to live is near impossible if you don't have money or have certain problems.
Imagine living in another century where what would be classed today as a hostel. The first was called a workhouse. It was mainly used for orphans and vagrants and would be the nightmare we wouldn't want to revisit. Another place was sort of a nightshelter. It was a penny a night to lay over a piece of rope with one leg on the floor. The rope was tied to a ring at both ends. The next day you went to work or sea because this was where most seamen stayed. One of the first so called hostels in Britain was in Aberystwyth it was for female students, not homeless people. One of the very first homeless hostels was run by the church in Bristol during WW2 for people that had become homeless during air raids. Although there was a homeless crisis in this country. It wasn't until the early sixties that Homelessness became the massive issue it has become. Homeless hostels began to spring up in every town in Britain.
Homelessness has been a problem as far back as the 7th century, the English king Hlothaere passed laws to punish vagrants. William the Conqueror forbade anyone to leave the land where he worked. Edward the First ordered weekly searches to round up vagrants. Ever since then the number of homeless still rises and falls. We know that in the 16th century estimates of around 20,000 vagrants were made. It was in this century that it decided to try to house vagrants rather than punish them. It was by introducing what was called bridewells. These were place where they were supposed to train homeless people in a profession but where in fact just places of intolerable cruelty. They where later replace by workhouses these were even harsher and crueler. It's inmates often fell ill or died of starvation and the even crueler regimes. These then where replaced by what was thought to be a much more fairer and workable system they where called the spikes (dormitory housing provided by local boroughs), ( pictured on the left) Would you believe George Orwell, stayed in them while researching poverty in Britain?
In the 1930s there where 17,000 people using the spike and only 80 were found sleeping rough on the streets of London. In the early nineteen sixties homelessness became the issue it still is today. Actual homelessness has been decreased but now we have people in hostels that have only four walls a bed and a window. One hostel dweller I spoke to said what have I done wrong? I have been in the same hostel for three years. I don't have a drug problem and I am not mentally ill. It's like I am in prison. The only difference is I am allowed out at night till midnight. Although hostels today are a lot different to what they used to be. Is it right that people are left in this temporary for years with no hope of moving on? It is a fact that it does seem to be the case as the number of people in temporary accommodation increases year by year. Is building super hostels the answer to the problem? Over the centuries there have been different ways of finding a solutions to homeless none seem to have worked and now this government plan to put even more into temporary accommodation. Are hostels the answer at all? I believe that hostels are not the final solution as there are various problems that homeless people suffer from and lack of learning and confidence in themselves seem to be the main stumbling blocks most homeless agencies are coming across.
23 May, 2006
19 May, 2006
I sit by a brook
With a sandwich and book
Then brush a strand of my hair
Wipe a tear from my eye
Suddenly I ponder the question of why
Have I read something between the thin lines?
Has something ignited?
Has something been drawn from my mind?
Has the echo of time swelled and become flowing
Have I suddenly become the one that's all knowing
As I sit by the brook with my thoughts and a sandwich
and course a good book
it just makes me think that our minds play strange tricks on us.
I would say there's a real fear among the poorer section of our society that worry about not having somewhere to safe to sleep at night, not having a roof over their head or their own personal space to come home to is a basic worry but the fact that some think it wouldn't happen to them is startling. Some of the people I know on the streets have been in high flying jobs, some have university degrees, some have even had their own businesses. Every case of homelessness is different. I should be saying it could be you just like the lottery advert
18 May, 2006
15 May, 2006
14 May, 2006
12 May, 2006
Everyday when you go to work or for a night out and I don't think it matters what country or where you live, we see the less fortunate, sleeping on the streets of our cities. shouldn't we at least try to correct it or just improve life a little. Most nights I go out on the streets of London to see if I can get homeless people to tell me their stories of how they became homeless and what is exactly happening to them now. Sometimes it so heart breaking to hear their stories and some of these people have been homeless a long time. The saying there is always someone that has a worse story than you own is really true. I always thought my childhood was rough but some of the stories I have heard over the past year are horrifying. What can be done for them? Its what I am always asking myself? It seems that the government are so busy focusing on young couples and people that can afford to buy their own homes they have simply just done the minimal for those that are disadvantaged. Is this because home owners are the bread and butter of this country as a member of the public said or is it that some of the homelesss need so much help that it's too expensive or is it that so much is said about the homeless all being junkies and alcoholics that everyone has said enough is enough lock them away and get them out of sight? no wonder people are afraid of homeless people and only sigh sadly inwards when they pass someone sleeping in a shop doorway.
my own oberservations are that people do care about other human beings but are not sure what they can do to help.
my own thoughts are, who cares what it cost to get someone back into the folds of society? Isn't it better for everyone to give people a chance at normality? So they to can pay their way? Just like everyone else and doesn't everyone have the right to live as part of a society?
not outcasts. These are just some of the thoughts that go through my head. Funny not so long ago I didn't have any.
11 May, 2006
10 May, 2006
The homeless panel on the left to right we have myself one Jamie McCoy ( the real McCoy) then we have Brian Hansanlli, Yvonne Powell, Jamie Williams from London and then from Birmingham we have Natalie Wier who was the youngest of the panel members and Andy Patrascu
08 May, 2006
I was thinking of what it would be like to have had a normal life, going to school everyday and learning. Having a job and earning. To me that’s what normality is but me being me I suppose normal was always out of the question. The thing is I now know I’m normal what ever that is. I used to think I was one hell of a hopeless case as my life was out of control, being a drug addict and homeless didn’t help matters but life has taken a strange twist thanks to all the people that never gave up on me, no matter what. One of my many downfalls was I couldn’t read or write and thanks to some hard work and people that had the time and patience I quickly learned but the one thing that always keeps coming back to me was how difficult it was to get some place to learn. Being homeless has its barriers and one of them has always been getting into education. I was talking today with a group of homeless people who want to learn stuff and go to college and because they are on the streets they can’t find a college to take them because of their lack of housing. It always seems to me that barriers are always put in place even if you have somewhere. I was in a hostel and I couldn’t afford the tuition fee. Thanks to a thing called changing lives I got to go to college and won a couple of awards. What I am saying is everyone deserves to be given the same opportunities as anyone else. One of the things that came up in my discussion was that ordinary people do not want to sit next to a homeless person that maybe is unshaven or has clothes that are a bit worn and dirty. No matter how clean underneath he or she is. I think the image people have of homeless people is out dated and to be truthful has always been misconceived. The picture we always seem associate homelessness with is the man with string round his waist for a belt. Holes in his jacket and shoes unpolished and holey and to add to that lot is their worldly goods in several bags in a shopping cart or something. I think this is the picture people see. They don’t see the actual person in front of them. If you add to all this the stories one hears about all homeless people being drug addicts and alcoholics. No wonder people are afraid to talk and mix with the homeless but how do you dispel people’s perceptions. You can only do that by showing the public and government the true nature of homelessness. What it's like to be homeless. What it’s like to be society’s outcasts because that is what homeless people are the forgotten members of society. What most homeless people want is a way back in to the mainstream of society and some kind of normality.
07 May, 2006
I was out as usual on Friday night and came across a woman of about forty. We went for a coffee where she told me something about herself. Her name was Tanya and she was originally from Norwich. She’d been living on the streets since she ran away from home at thirteen. She told me about her step dad abusing her and how no one believed her, not even her mother or the social services. She told me what she had been through whilst on the streets and that she’d been a working girl; in London’s west end. How she got into drugs and how many times she’d been arrested and been in prison. She summed up her life as a total waste of space. when i told her a bit about myself she thought I was joking. We chatted for quite sometime after a while she said how hard it was for her as a single woman on the streets, because every male she'd met always wanted something and how hard it was to get a hostel or somewhere safe to stay. She said being a single woman seemed to her to leave her at a great disadvantage because everything was so male orientated. When I left her I felt that somewhere along the line she had been badly let down by the system.
How do you catch the ones that need help so badly? We used to have outreach workers from various homeless organizations roam the streets at night looking for just this kind of person but now all that’s changed as the government and councils search for more cost effective ways of curing homelessness and to me that’s what it’s all about. Money. As we try to cure this age old problem of homelessness it seems that we are missing the people that need the help the most. I was thinking about Local councils that give people sleeping on the streets a bit of paper to go to a local day center to see if they can be help to get them off the streets. This is all fine and well but what about the person that cannot read or write, the severely disabled or the person that is afraid to go to these day centers because of the fear of violence and believe me violence often occurs among homeless people. What about the alcoholic who seems to be beyond help? Simply not enough now is being done to find the people that really need help and sometimes all it takes is that one defining moment in someone’s life when someone shows compassion that change does occur.
A child will grow and grow
From its parent learn all the things it did not know.
With confidence and poise
Match pace with time.
This child will not maybe walk a perfect line.
Yet all will still be well and this child will be the apple of their eye
With no exceptions this child will bring a ray of sunshine in his father's life
Along with all the worry and the strife.
And in a mothers heart that gently beats
A love that knows no bounds
A love that never has to die
Through tears this child of joy might cry.
Then one day this child has grown
The mirror image of its parents
Yet still a child with age
Still with confidence matches pace with time.
Well, that's the first thing I have written for ages. Well I must get some beauty sleep as I am looking a bit on the old side today.