A-Z Blogging Challenge- Theme: Homelessness
It’s an alien feeling to become invisible and what it brings, I’ve adopted an almost different persona as well as behaviours that seem to go hand in hand with homelessness.
The change well to me seemed almost immediate, suddenly I became a non person, because having a home entitles you to some respect, people actually look you in the eye, they talk to you not at you, your treated as intelligence their equal.
It’s quite a strange sensation, to be talking to one of the many housing officers, you know your there but they always seem to a point over your shoulder they develop a sing-song voice, the same as when talking to a child, and if you don’t immediately reply the sharpness in their tone makes you feel worthless.
Most people in housing work to a script and I understand they are desensitied to a degree, as they see and hear the same thing day in day out, and it would be difficult for them to absorb the total futility of the many cases they deal with, nonetheless, their script doesn’t allow for basic humanity, it’s all very quick “we can’t help you…NEXT”
Each time you I seemed to fade away a little more, with our local council to have to save money they closed the regular housing office and moved their offices to the local library, therefore no privacy save a 2 ft piece of plywood to act as a barrier, so you can hear the person next door as they can hear you, and depending on who you’re talking to they might as well set up a microphone so everybody can hear your sorry tale as you basically plead for help.
This is such an isolating experience, the lack of respect , privacy, autonomy, dignity, sometimes I feel like saying would it be better if I just cut my wrists and bled, would that get me any further.
Another quite scary aspect as homelessness has new faces when faced with someone who is switched on, and quite frankly used to dealing with officialdom, they don’t like it, it intimidates them it forces them to look at you as a human being not one of the unwashed who has dragged themselves off the streets to abase themselves to get some basic assistance, that does not go down well and you can literally read their minds as they judge you, and knowing they have a little power and put you to the bottom of the pile, I’ve heard and seen evidence of this, it’s happened to me a couple of times.
As the new decisions over benefit sanctions and how you can be helped are not really centralised it’s up to individual interpretation of the advice they offer, and some get it badly wrong, many will say this is not true, and that services are over stretched, that is exactly why it doesn’t always work and people like me fall through the cracks, and are invisible, because they find other ways not always legal to help themselves.
What has been brought home for me, is that we are so used to seeing people sleeping rough, that we don’t actually see it as we go about our daily business I’m not saying you should give everybody money, but at least be aware of this shocking social problem, talk about it, don’t allow homelessness to wallow under the invisibility cloak and never think it can’t happen to you, to many homelessness has now become a way of life, and it’s a great shame that people, human beings live on the edges of society like this, I doubt it was in anybody’s life plan to end up homeless or worse sleeping rough.