This question has as many facets to it as it can only really truly be answered individually.
Typical society view is that of rough sleeping, down and outs, scourge of the town – isn’t a part of the world we live in…….
Yet, it’s in our schools, workplaces, sports and media, in fact all around us, and its people’s FEAR of being labelled, the shame, the guilt and it’s quite simply hidden behind doors and masks.
I have and continue to wear masks according to the situation I’m in, when asked personal questions about my situation – I’m fortunate now that I have a space for tonight, and tomorrow, and hopefully next week and beyond, yet as life exists, that can change on a sixpence. That wasn’t always the case.
I’ve sat in doorways, sofa surfed, slept in garages, been sneered at, assaulted for being ‘that thing’, especially in my times living in hostels.
I live in the first human rights city in the UK, that has no planned new social housing per say available, land prices at extortionate levels, empty buildings sat there waiting to grow in value, sold to the next student block, Airbnb, hotel chain, or pension fund.
My city attracts wealth from around the globe due to the location and transport links – two hours to London, Scotland by train, forty minutes to the coast or National parks by car, although they are banned from the centre as we are a cycle city.
Our economy is framed on tourism and hospitality which are, as you may know, are the well-paid service industries allowing ‘residents’ to live, breath and serve those people who can afford to visit, live here.
It’s a city that’s proud of its image, and rightly so for heritage, beauty and attractiveness, yet masks its underbelly of modern slavery, county lines gangs, abject pockets of poverty – they’re not in the DNA! – sadly they are….
So, next time you visit, take off your own mask, observe, spare a thought for those minimum wage, zero contract folk serving you, driving the transportation during your stay, whilst trying to keep afloat themselves, priced out of their home city, forced to travel in at great cost to their families.
One day, I hope we have a city with a true culture of compassion, kindness and care for its residents around that basic human right – a safe place to rest your heart and head – whether I’ll still be housed to report back then, time will tell.
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