“But any outreach worker who trawls the streets will tell about a block, a fear, a reluctance, especially in men. It often takes many nights of sitting chatting under a railway bridge even tu persuade a man to come indoors for a hot meal. Street sleepers can become, to themselves, a terrible kind of nothing: invisible, frozen.”
Libby Purves tells us a compelling story today in The Times about the plight of people living rough on the streets of London. It is easy to become accustomed to the idea that it is inevitable and that the homeless are part and parcel of the social structure of the big cities. Take one off the street and help him to a decent live and another one will take his place. As obvious as it may look this is not the point of the charity: to eradicate this kind of problems once and for all. That is not even the government’s duty nor its target, although you may find it in a sub-paragraph of their political agenda once in a while.
Most of other dire situations people may find themselves in are not in the same category as this one. Because, a man with a family and a roof over his head can easily find support among his relatives, friends, co-workers in hard times. What they have and the others not is the dignity left almost intact; they are temporarily under pressure and their similar experiences in the past had taught them the ways to get out. The people on the street have nothing of these: no friends, no family, no roof, no jobs and the worst one, no right or reason for self-respect. They are being hit repeatedly, on daily basis, in their pride and their dignity, and each hit is one step further down this road.
Libby Purves tells us as well the story of a centre called Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square which is doing a terrific job of taking care of homeless people in London. You can read more about their work by following the link to their site.
For someone with a healthy obsession with religion as myself, the story brings out, indirectly, another similar story. One of lost, out-placed, misled and often resigned souls, filling the big show theaters, where a few mad rich people use the poor’s hunger and see it as an opportunity to help themselves with the little left to offer.
How can we convince people to get together and set up similar Connections to deal with these kind of homelessness now?