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Spare a thought this Christmas….

November 26, 2007

It was 7pm on Christmas day last year, (2006), and the city part of town was buzzing with people in good cheer. We had just popped out to see the Christmas lights without the little one, and were they splendid? There was lots and lots of traffic and people. Everyone wanted to see the lights. We were all sitting comfortably in the warmth of the car when we came to a standstill at the lights.

Almost simultaneously we all noticed a man, in his 40’s probably, wearing a coat and woolly hat. He was arranging some cardboard boxes in a shop front. Draped over his shoulder was a beige coloured warm blanket. It was when the youngest was looking that my wife told the little one, that the man was arranging his bed with the cardboard boxes. She said, “This was life,” the little one looked on in awe. It seemed like an eternity. The traffic lights changed and we moved off slowly.

Just round the corner, only a few feet away wan another man, in his 40’s, moving slowly, carrying a refuse bag. He looked tired. It was then I thought, surely this is not what Christmas is about, you know, goodwill to all men that that kind of thing, Why in 2006, especially at Christmas, but irrespective of this time of year, why at all did these men not have roofs over their heads? It was freezing outside. Interestingly, this city could have been any major city in England and Wales, couldn’t it, but in fact it was London? Not a stonesthrow away was Hyde Park.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the council had not erected a tent with a sleeping area, eating area, and washing area. Surely if there was anytime to do this sort of thing it was now. They could have done something more. I thought, if sheltered housing was full in all major cities then society is not meeting the demand if men like this have to sleep outside in this cold. These men, perhaps have no traceable identity and not all-homeless people are criminals, but they are potential victims of crime and drink and even if they fell victim would they report the matter? Probably not? It’s almost as if these people don’t exist.

It would appear that perhaps these individuals are caught up in bureaucracy, such that without an identity or name they are unable to claim benefits, as they sit quietly on the periphery of society. Ours is a duty to protect life, which is our special role. I am equally certain that funding of some community and diversity based programmes could be diverted in each major city to protect the basic human rights of this silent minority. When will we ever learn as a society that community and race relation’s is not about making us feel good, it’s about getting to hard to reach the minorities, like these individuals, who perhaps have nothing.

It is only a matter of time before a missing person from years gone by may be found, injured or dead, and questions by families will be asked as to how many times we have had dealings with this person, what involvement the Council have had and what of the bureaucracy? Perhaps when we end up arresting some of these people for drunk and disorderly then maybe they might have somewhere to stay temporarily, and society makes this a police problem temporarily, but it is society that has let individual hardship get to this state. I cannot envisage in today’s day and age of modernity that we have homeless people, when finances could be easily diverted to cater for this group. And this is civilised behaviour in 2006? This is anything but civilised. It’s Christmas all right, but this isn’t really what Christmas is about…….Is it? And this could be any City in England.

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4 comments

  1. Yes it is, indeed, a problem but you have to, also, consider the facts. Very often these people suffer from some kind of mental disorder and quite often addicted to drink too. That is not a reason not to treat and house these people but should not lead to the conclusion that they could all be adequately housed in Sheltered Housing

    The residents of Sheltered Housing are often quite old and vulnerable and they have generally opted to live in those circumstances because they need support or companionship. Quite frankly to drop a sot, or two, in amongst them would be disturbing and frightening for many residents and the spin off would be hostility towards the resident who disturbs their ordered lifestyle and result in isolation of the victim.

    Having said that there may be a few who could socially fit into Sheltered Housing but, I feel, a majority would really need purpose built centres but where you would put them I have no idea because you would immediately run into neighbourhood hostility to any plans to site such an establishment in their back yard


  2. Add http://www.shelteredhousinguk.com


  3. It’s even worse when you realise just how many former soldiers figure among the homeless. Also, care in the community


  4. Vernony, J, thank you for visiting. Valid points made. I have an idea…..



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