Stay at home.
Yup, a clear message.
But difficult if you do not have a home, and you are classed as homeless.
And, just a thought, is that really the right term? Homeless, possibly stigmatising, slightly suggests that it is your fault, or you simply misplaced your home!
Rough sleeping, is that better?
Anyway, regardless of the correct term, in December the (seaside) council decided one of our guys (rough sleeping) was not vulnerable enough to support his application for housing.
Which is rather a ‘catch 22’ – how does a vulnerable individual have the resource to prove that he is vulnerable enough to satisfy unknown criteria? We have asked.
So, we gave him a tent, not in the expectation of encouraging future scouting type adventures or possible forays into festival living. No, just to keep the rain off and the wind out, because he had nowhere else to go and no other shelter/home for Christmas and beyond
Then finally, last week as the temperatures dropped to below freezing for consecutive days, the council housed him. Emergency accommodation in a seaside view hotel.
A view from a Torbay hotel, how lovely, the English Riviera in all its winter glory.
Or 70 clients with every possible issue, problem, addiction, and criminal practice going on accommodated together with one security guard/manager!
Dealers quickly open their stalls, sex workers show their wares and drop their prices, alcoholics fight over a bottle of sherry in the hallway, and nobody is considering social distancing or any other means of reducing any disease transmission.
Our tent man is wondering if he is better off rough sleeping.
He is not.
It must be better to be off the street.
But it could just be better than this. It should be better than this.
Tent man is fundamentally a decent man, he has known a better life, it went wrong, it could happen to any of us.
Lockdown means different problems for us all, but perhaps as we come out of this and are eventually allowed out of our homes, we can try and be better than we were.
Now that is a clear message.
14th January 2021