A Winters Tale

As the Christmas tree goes up and the council switch the lights on, folk busy themselves up and down Whitley Road. The Christmas scramble has started. Most people in Whitley remember T&G Allen’s, a stalwart of the high street since… forever. Cards and stationary downstairs, toys in the basement, bizarre nic-nacs on the first floor. Well, Allen’s became another high street casualty, like so many, as they struggled to compete with the supermarkets and the internet. Allen’s is now a dentist. You can’t actually see in, cos they’ve blocked out the windows, but judging by what I can remember of T&G Allen’s, it must be massive inside. I suppose the days when your dentist occupied the front room of a Victorian terrace are also numbered.

What’s your point I hear you huff! Well… it’s this… Last Friday morning, round the back of that same building, there was a small fire that broke out in a bin storage area. When the fire brigade dowsed it down, they found a body. The body of a guy who had been sleeping rough in that same bin area. He was so cold he had lit a fire to keep warm and that fire had claimed his life. The story is tragic, on so many levels. According to the local press, the guy was named as 43 year old Darren Robson. A guy that had friends, a child, a whole previous life and, had somehow slipped into a spiral of drink and sleeping rough. There’s a whole back story involving Darren allegedly knocking on his mate’s door in the early hours of the morning to ask for shelter from the bitter cold. His mate, himself in temporary accommodation was unable to help, fearing that the act would get him into trouble, and somehow compromise his own arrangements.

The little kid at the top of the page is Tom, he’s not an actor… he’s the real life face of Shelter’s 2014 Christmas appeal. An appeal that this year is highlighting the fact that, this Christmas, thousands of children will be without a home. Last year 7 year old Tom spent Christmas Day in a B+B with a take away for a Christmas dinner.

Homelessness is one of those things that really bothers me, not least because of all the empty properties. Half the shops are empty and closed down, there’s acres of empty space above these shops, its winter and half the B+B’s are empty. Why the hell have we still got people sleeping on the street?

Yes there’s loads of good causes out there. We are bombarded… In the last month I’ve had knocking on my door, Marie Curie, Cancer Research, the World Wildlife Fund, the Red Cross and a pet charity. Just through my daughters  school we’ve had Red Nose Day, Children In Need, we’ve Wore Red, sent Christmas Shoe Boxes to Africa and donated to Ebola.

And last week she came home from Brownies with a form collecting for a Food Bank. An actual Food Bank, which is about 200 yards from where I live. Not sure whether you know anything about Food Banks, but they ask you to donate long life foods, that can either be eaten cold or don’t need cooking at all… selection boxes especially welcome at this time of the year. It’s heartbreaking.  I struggle to comprehend that I live in a town with a Food Bank at the top of my street, 5 minutes walk from the spot where a homeless guy burned to death trying to keep warm.

For fucks sake people.

Homelessness in this country is an absolute abomination. The political classes right across the board and the arseholes that have got us into this ridiculous situation are nothing less than scum. Judging from what I see around me, we certainly aren’t in this together.

So I know you are sick of charity… but people are dying on the streets of the towns where we live because they don’t have the most basic of human needs. A roof over their heads.

Happy Christmas!

By Dave on November 27, 2014

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