07 May, 2006

Someone to talk to

When I go out at night and talk to homeless people I hear some horrific tales of violence and abuse that stem from the home. I think that I was so lucky when I was at home because I had a mother that loved me even though she had problems herself. It was only my own drug problem that eventually drove me away seeking a quick cure and a change of scenery, a chance to change my life, which didn’t happen for some years. So when someone tells me what kind of life they have had and why they are on the streets. I really do listen because it’s what some people have never had, someone to listen.
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.

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