The town centre was very busy today, crowds and noise everywhere. Even the library was busy, although obviously less noisy. I took a walk round looking for somewhere quiet and secluded just to sit in peace for a while but there was nowhere within easy walking distance.
Considering that I spend so much time being lonely, I actually don’t get to be alone that often. There is the night time when I hide away in my sleeping bag but that’s not really the same as having a place to relax and enjoy some peace. I think when I get my a place to live I’m going to lock myself in my room for about a week and try not to see or hear another person.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”
I saw this quote on twitter and it got me thinking. I’ve felt useless for a long, long time. With no-one to take care of, no friends or family, what use am I? Do I do anything to make the world a better place for anyone? Am I, as I feel sometimes, just a pointless drain on society?
I can’t answer any of those questions for certain, I think ultimately it’s for others to judge my usefulness.
The one thing I come back to when I think about these things is this blog. It’s not very popular, maybe 100 or 200 views on any given day. But I have had some very positive feedback from some of the people who read it. I don’t know if that is enough to make me of use but surely if you can touch even one persons life in a positive way then you are of value to the world.
Like I said, it’s not for me to judge my usefulness. Is this blog enough to give my life worth? I hope so.
When I first became homeless I didn’t know what to do. I was hopelessly lost to know how to cope. I was constantly hungry and dirty. It was a while before I realised that there were a huge number of charities and good people available to help.
I have written before about the Alabare drop in centre that I go to, they are open 4 days a week for 4 hours at a time. They have breakfast facilities for free and offer a hot meal and dessert for £1. They also have laundry facilities that can be used free and a shower that they will give you a towel and soap for.
The centre is mostly run by paid staff but they also have volunteers who help out. Some of the volunteers come in just to wash dishes and clean tables. They are so dedicated to helping people in need that they will clean for strangers for free.
If it hadn’t been for people like this I could actually be dead now. I don’t mean that I would have starved to death, that is something that is blessedly very rare in this country. But without places like these I could have very easily given in to despair.
I and thousands of others owe my life and wellbeing to these charities and that isn’t where their usefulness ends. If they were not available towns and cities across the country would have hungry, desperate people walking the streets.
We all owe them a debt of gratitude so if you are able contact one near you and help out. You don’t have to volunteer, maybe make a donation of cash or in the form of old clothes or new socks. If you work for a shop or restaurant see if they can use nearly out of date food. Whatever way you can because this country would be in a much worse state without them.
The big thing that defines your life when you are homeless isn’t about who you are or what you have, it’s about what you don’t have. A home obviously, but let’s take a look at what else comes with that.
Electricity is something I’ve talked about before but it’s worth mentioning again as it covers so much more than I’ve discussed in the past. Imagine your day to day life without a TV, a computer or a tablet. Now forget about the luxuries and imagine it with out a cooker, a kettle, a toaster. No electric lights that you can switch off and on at your convenience. No heating you can turn up when you’re cold. This is what it means to be without electricity.
But there is more, imagine having no armchair to relax in and no carpet that you can walk barefoot on. No coffee table that you can rest a hot drink on. No running water, no plates or cutlery, no bed, no shower or bath, no drawers or cupboards. No ceiling.
Being without all these things every day is miserable but there are even worse things to not have. Imagine having no privacy or security. Imagine having no dignity or respect.
I’m writing this while I can because I’m having problems with my phone. It keeps saying sim card not found and I have to restart it to get it to work for a short time until it does it again. I’m worried that at some point it will just give up completely and I won’t be able to update for a while. So if there are no posts for a few days it doesn’t necessarily mean anything has happened to me it just means that I’ll have wait until I can get a new phone from somewhere before I can continue with this.
Being homeless it would be reasonable to expect me to be out of the loop with what’s going on in the world. That would probably have been true a few years back and is probably true for a lot of homeless people. However thanks to my phone and copious free WiFi I manage to keep myself up to date with most things.
I started writing this and stopped for a while after the first paragraph because I didn’t know where I was going with this post. After some thought I realise that I don’t want to be thought of as JUST homeless. That’s difficult since that’s what this blog is all about but I’m more than that. I also have opinions, ideas and beliefs.
Everyone is categorised in some way, by gender, by age, by race or in any of a thousand different ways. And that’s okay as long as we don’t prejudge a person based on these categories, there are words for people who do that. Racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe etc. But there isn’t a word that I am aware of for people who are prejudiced towards the homeless. There is no bad word to call someone who thinks all homeless people are dirty, smelly junkies. There is no stigma attached to hating us.
So apparently it’s okay if you want to despise me without even knowing me. That is not a comforting thought.
The one thing that will always identify me as being homeless is having to carry around a huge backpack everywhere I go. I can take it off indoors obviously, at the library or the drop in centre for example. But whenever I go anywhere it’s always on my back.
It contains a change of clothes, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat and a few sundries. Not much but everything I own. It’s the second one I’ve had since I’ve been homeless, the first was stolen, and I have not grown fond of it. Without it I could probably pass as a normal person, a little scruffy but some people just are. With it I’ll always be recognised as being a bum.
When I get sorted out I’d like to burn it and dance on the ashes I hate it so much.