27 July, 2007

A normal life

How do you live a normal life if you're in a hostel or living on the street? The answer you can't because you really don't have a normal life like most people in this country. Times maybe hard for some of us but most of us have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies and that's how we live day to day kind of easy. We can come home and shut out the world for a few hours, sit down and watch TV or read a book without being disturbed by someone who has had a bit too much to drink or has a health problem that probably makes him shout out a lot. We might not have a lot of money in our pockets( the government says we have more money in our pockets than five years ago) but we survive the rigours day today living. Now imagine living on the streets, your bed is a piece of card board from the back of a near by shop and every night you are praying something good happens to you the next day and you don't have use your wits to struggle through another day or walk miles to find somewhere safe to sleep. Imagine you're a young woman it doesn't take much to send a shiver down your spine does it? All most people want is some kind of life akin to what some people would call normal. you know a house or a flat some where warm and cosy but you can call it home. It doesn't matter how well meaning some of our charitable organisations are but until you get that stable base then its hard for anyone to have a life that's normal.

23 July, 2007

Sums that just don't add up

In Gordon Browns opening speech as prime minister he made a reference to building three million more homes by the year 2020. Well, even I am not that good at my math but even I know at the rate of people needing homes in the future we will still be around 3.7 million homes short and that's an estimation of people needing homes at the rate needed today. With all the people we have coming to live here from EU countries and future generations having their children and so on, if you stop to think about things for a while it all just doesn't add up. Maybe this government and the previous ones should have made education a higher priority and math being a higher part of the education curriculum because adding up for many politician seems to be a problem.
What about all the social needed housing because as housing prices rise and they will keep on rising until this government intervenes. I do understand the economics and the value to any government to keep house prices high but what I don't understand is the over inflation.
Ordinary working class people are being priced out of the housing market and that where I think more help will be needed. We have a huge short fall in rentable accommodation in this country and we have a private sector that's taking full advantage of that fact and are charging rents that are overly inflated but if you are on government benefits then you simply will be lucky to get a place and that's becoming a problem and for once i don't have an immediate answer to the problem but I am sure the problem could be eased by not knocking down much needed housing to regenerate areas that really don't need regenerating.

19 July, 2007

Jamie speaks

It has now been about three and a half months that I have been going to the hospital to visit my friend who was in a comma and has now woken. The bad news is that he is severely brain damaged and the kind of damage he has received is beyond repair. Some of you who read my blog will know my friend Alan from the crisis Christmas shelter. He was a guest for many years All this makes me think of how lucky I am to be still around after the life I have led but things are not that simple, how could they be? It's like saying we are the only intelligent being in the universe and believe me when I say I sometimes wonder about the intelligent part. Life is what you make is the saying I have often heard but if you start life at the bottom of the pile so to speak, sometimes that's where you will stay because no one wants to give you a second glance and to me that's whats missing in society today. You have probably heard some pensioner say in my day things were different. I sometimes get the feeling he maybe right. If you think about it we have had world wars and other things happen. Yet there was a togetherness, a comradeship of the British people that brought them together no matter what and that's what I think is missing in today's society. Look at the soldiers that are now sleeping rough at nights we don't give them a second thought probably because we think they are already looked after I mean why wouldn't they be? but it's just not the case. Some suffer from mental illnesses that we couldn't image. After what some of them have seen we just would not understand. What makes me so mad is that we believe nearly all that is told us by governments. It's only over the last ten years that some people have begun to question the decisions and statements that the government make. Now for something else while I am here. People see me as an ex homeless drug addict who has only just got his life back together and doesn't really have a mind of his own and is a puppet for a certain charity but I can tell you all this. Although I do quite a lot of things for my favorite charity Crisis I have a mind of my own and I have my own opinions and sometimes I am outspoken but I listen to what people say and make my own mind up. Everyone knows that I think some of the best people to work with homeless people are the ones who has been there and got the T-shirt so to speak case. So there you have it Jamie McCoy speaks up.

10 July, 2007

Every so often something happens to make us sit up and take notice of what's going on around us. Take this weekend and the concerts to let us know about global warning which in its self is a good thing. The fact that the people know about it already and are taking steps although they are only small ones is great but governments that we the people have elected seem to side step the issue is the most worrying factor. We hear about alternative energy sources and other things to help with the environment but what do we really know. Do we know for instance how much damage has been done to the ozone layer and is it repairable or is it the case that we have to look to the stars to find new homes in the very near future. I for one am glad that I wont be moving in my life time but what would happen in a few years when flooding becomes a thing of each season and the Thames barrier is not longer doing its job and the fact that England is shrinking at twice the expected rate due to ever rising sea levels? What happens to the homeless when there is no place to sleep, no shop doorway? Will the figures be true or Will they be the rough estimates we have today. The figures make me smile most of the time and the way the government come up with a figure on how many people are sleeping rough on any given night is a bit perplexing because no matter what, the actual figure is usually two and a half times that much. At least it's not the two and a half thousand it was. The thing that I see day in and day out is people that are homeless and all they need is just that a half chance to get their lives back together.

05 July, 2007

Not born homeless just made

It's funny but homelessness is a thing that has always been since God knows when. Every time we think we have got it cured or reduced to a small manageable number it raises it's head to just to let us know it's still here and very much alive. Every one asks the question how can we cure this problem once and for all but it's not that easy when you have some people who want to live on the streets because it's all they know and how do you support the people you can help. There has been many different schemes all with the same goal in mind but there has to be a permanent solution.
Some day there will be something in place for all. Not only for the young but the over twenty fives. It does seem that if you're over a certain age then there is very little in place to prevent anyone becoming homeless. I have certain cases in mind when I say this as the in their cases homelessness could have been avoided. Most of us were born in hospital or at home. We were not homeless. Yet as I am siting here twenty more people are sleeping rough for the first time all over the country tonight. The government say it's not as big of a problem as it was but how many of us go into town and see people sleeping rough? How many of us know about some of the things homeless people have to put up with in the hostels they are in and how many of us would wait two or three years to be housed in a shared flat or another hostel? This is what happens. I would like to see hostels with some kind of rehabilitation for addicts. There are a few that have drug units but these are few and far between and there's not much follow on. Many hostels would prefer to take non addicts because they are easier to manage and the only time you actually see an addict on TV is at Christmas when you see the opening of the crisis shelter and to be honest its not just a Christmas thing. I am not saying that hostels go out of there way to be choosy but with addiction on the rise again this year. We have to start thinking about more permanent solutions to all the problems. It's a fact that if you become an addict you are more than likely to become homeless within a small space of time

03 July, 2007

Nothing much changes

When I was a young man I ran away from one situation into another and really that's how my life has been for well, my whole life. The drug issues I had I think where a symptom of the life I was leading at the time. Although my life has changed dramatically ( for the better ) Things still seem to be a bit same old same old. I walk London's West End talking to all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, but nothing seems to change significantly enough to put a smile on the faces of some of the people I meet. I was talking to a student last night and he was saying that when he finishes his teachers degree. He will be in so much debt that he just can't see past enjoying today. I asked does he think the government have got it wrong when it comes to paying college fees. He said yes and there has to be a much better way of getting the teachers we need without them getting into debt. Debt is one of the biggest headaches this country has and it doesn't seem to be easing one in three families have outstanding debts. One in five single people have credit card debt and four out of ten people on income support, incapacity benefit or other government benefit have outstanding debts from loans to rent arrears . It's funny but as the years have rolled on by nothing has really changed the rich are even richer. the poor are still stuck in the poverty trap as they where twenty years ago

Olympics or bust

I was listening to the latest news about the Olympics and I couldn't help but wonder, why we have had such an outcry for more space to build houses? When all of a sudden we can find the space and money to build an Olympic village with all its amenities doesn't it seem a bit strange? We are spending billions ( cost still rising) on something that will not be used to its fullest after the games. We haven't seemed to have learned from other counties what happened after the Olympics and how much its still costing them. Will it cost us more in the long term? who knows? who really cares? I will probably among the thousands that will watch it.
We all fall short on somethings in our life but we usually manage to put things into some kind of prospective. For some of us for one reason and another we never quite manage it and the small failures in our lives turn into massive and irreversible ones or so we think but given half a chance most would jump for joy in being able to correct something long over due but even this doesn't help people that have been labelled. Stigmas are attached to most things in life whether it be homelessness or health problems or even someone going to work in a suit. The usual thing for homeless people is that its their own fault or they must drink and get high every night. On the other hand you have someone who is a bit dysfunctional, not so clever through no fault of their own. The stigma attached can have a devastating affect we call them everything we have ever read or heard from dumb dums to retards. It's not very often we actually see the person in front of us and very rarely do we get to know them.
I was wondering if this was a big part of the problem that we as a society have in trying to help people less fortunate than ourselves.