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A bird's eye view of the vineyard
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Belfast - On the Streets
rights, freedoms and repression |
Wednesday December 05, 2007 14:38 by Davy Carlin
Belfast - On the streets
It was but a ‘gut re-action that I had decided to take an early lunch today from work, and also to leave by a differing route. And as I did I had seen a fella getting up from the ground with a cup in hand that he was begging with. I then looked at his face and it was an old school friend and some one I had recently worked with, but now with his face weathered and beaten.
He was coughing extensively and was feverish.
On speaking to him I found out that he had lost his job due to ‘down sizing, and with that, his private landlord had booted him out of his home of four years. He had battled against a slight mental disability all his life and despite that had held down a job stacking shelves which paid for a roof over his head.
He has no friends and little family.
He told me he was ‘living in a derelict building with a girl in her twenties and another young man who are also homeless, both of which have seen hard lives. He told me of the many faces which are getting more numerous and younger, who are eeking out an existence on our streets, many of which we don’t see, as they are ‘moved on into such squalor.
He has been on the streets for two weeks, and he says that the police have searched and hassled him on numerous occasions and threatened to charge him for begging. He does not drink and he begs for food and for the £1 to get into a hostel for the night from 8pm until 8am, then he is back out onto the streets.
He had gone to the Benefit agency but was told no fixed abode, then no money. So he literally begs for survival. He then said he had gone to the Housing Executive, but was told he could not be placed for four to six weeks.
I told him to come with me to housing advice to see what we could do. Then his words nearly broke my heart, ‘Davy I don’t want you to get in trouble with your work and stuff, I will survive’
So despite his condition and circumstances he worried about me, yes, my heart nearly broke.
We went to housing advice, and this time something was sorted.
Indeed it is so easy to end up on the streets, broken homes, broken relationships, loss of job, unscrupulous landlordism etc. Yet as this society moves on and many benefit from ‘peace and seeing many with their second homes, holiday homes etc, there are those who have no home.
This guy was let down by the system that professes to protect such persons. Had I not had that ‘gut reaction and a ‘feeling to go that route at that time, he could have been but another statistic, of death on our streets.
Those who sit on the hill and who are where they had wanted to be, let them not forget such persons.
They are our citizens, they are the friends the neighbours the brothers and sisters who have fallen on hard times, and in such times of need we need to do all we can to help them.
Indeed they are our fellow human beings.