By Paul Atherton FRSA
The news is so depressing.
And it’s as if people spending Christmas day alone is the first time this has ever happened in British history. It’s not. People spend Christmas time alone every year. Yet we don’t have people interviewed then going, generally speaking, ‘Oh I can’t see my brother, my mother, my sister, my Dad. It’s the end of the world.’
Well it’s not. It’s a day, it’s a day like any other day. We put this significance on it because it’s just culturally what we’ve done. But we’ve been locked in for months now, so being locked in for another day is kind of irrelevant. So it’s self-inflicted pain.
But what really frustrates me is that the news channels are delivering this as if it’s all gloom and doom, rather than going. ‘Hey think about all the people that have spent decades having Christmas day on their own.’
Remember how this feels next year when you’re all surrounded by family going, ‘Yay this is great, this is lovely.’ Forgetting about people who are on their own.
I’ve celebrated about, I don’t know, 20 Christmas’s on my own. As you know I’ve been homeless 11 years now. So this Christmas day will be not particularly exceptional in that respect.
The hardest thing actually, for people who are on their own, is that everything is shut. You know, we spend most of our time alone, especially if you’re homeless, if you’re single, you’re going to be alone. But it doesn’t really matter if there are plenty of things to do. But it’s that being trapped, can’t travel, all the transport gone, nothing open. That’s what kind of focuses everything on to that sort of single point that I don’t have anybody around.
But even that’s not necessarily true if you do have family and friends, ’cause it’s a matter of a phone call or a zoom call now, to connect. Which means that then you’re not alone, but there are plenty of people who are.
And I really just wish the news would stop making this a big thing and traumatising and reporting about the stupidity of people rushing off to Euston or St. Pancras to try and escape Tier 4. Completely seemingly missing the point that the whole point of lockdown was to prevent the disease from spreading and if you run away from the lockdown you are actually perpetuating the very thing it is set up to do, or to prevent rather.
Anyway, yes, news. Monday. Beginning of Christmas week. I’m going to do a video contribution to Groundswell this week, but mental health is absolutely key to survival. And it’s more important in some respects for people who are suffering with homelessness or depression, because this is a time where even if you’ve got control – the media, news, and the public at large definitely want you to feel like you’re very, very alone.