You may notice that often, these days, there are larger and larger gaps between posts on this blog, and across my social media from my Twitter to my Instagram. In fact, most of the time, the only thing updated regularly is my Snapchat. The reason for this is simple: I am working more and more.
At this moment in time, work dominates my life, and why? Because we are heading towards some important things to secure the future of the company. Why does that mean I’m working so much? Well, because I’m the one making sure the paperwork is all complete and ready to go at any given time. Spending day after day in front of a screen at work means I seldom want to sit down and spend time writing out a blog post. In fact, I’m writing this one in work because other than this method, this blog would go without posts for at least the next weeks I think.
So, let’s talk about my work shall we? In the past I worked in purely mental health care and rehabilitation. I loved it, I stuck with it for 5 years, but the veil began to drop and I saw the company for what it was: a way to make money without really caring or making sure the high staff turnover were properly trained, thus leaving me and my colleagues who had worked there for a while, in massive amounts of danger.
My decision to leave came from my manager’s reaction to a regular incident that had worn me down, and so I walked out of my shift, went home and applied for the job I am now working in.
So now, I work in a homeless hostel providing day-to-day and housing related support. Some may think this is a huge difference, some may not. Truth of the matter is, it’s both. Why? Well because you can become homeless through a tragic event, through something simple, through mental health and substance misuse, or simply because there just no feasible way you can live independently when recent changes to benefits and deductions have meant you face paying out more than you can possibly afford.
I have been here just under 2 years now, and to be honest, whilst sometimes it is tiresome, I feel like I am doing something worthwhile. I could probably do without the cleaning duties, but needs must when you have to keep the hostel presentable and tidy at all times.
Here, I have encountered all walks of life, and whilst there’s been some incidents that haven’t been so pleasant, on the whole, it is workable. I can see the flaws in the system and the positives, and I feel like they’re largely balanced, even if the odd comment about benefits gets me a tiny bit mad.
So why is homelessness so bad when there’s so many houses on offer through local authorities? Well, I’ll be honest, you’ll see most of the empty houses have age restrictions on, such as 55 and over, or preference is given to people with children, or couples with visitation rights etc. If you’re a single man wanting to get a house, you have to wait your turn and unfortunately you’re not very high up the list. It’s becoming more common that I am having to refer customers to housing associations because they have more houses suitable to the client group than the local authority. This sometimes means a deposit still has to be found, when some people can’t piece that together. And let’s not forget the standard is a two bed flat – hello bedroom tax.
So what’s the solution? Well, as much as possible, it would be about creating one bed properties in the housing estates that have work currently going on to build more homes. Add those one bed properties and a single person can move in. Or even a couple. Similarly, removing the bedroom tax would be a good idea as its not had the effect that was desired: to force people who lived in bigger houses with unoccupied bedrooms to move to smaller properties.
The bulk of the problem is the types of properties that are both under-occupied or have restrictions on the type of person who can live there. Bigger families are taking up smaller houses because Betty down the road raised her family in this bigger house and it has memories and she wants to stay there. That’s all well and good, but you have to think of the bigger picture.
I bought my house earlier this year, and to be honest, I wish I could have bought my childhood home, but I did’t and couldn’t. That house had memories, but now I have this new house to make new memories, and what are memories anyway? They are mental playbacks of what happened, it’s not as if you suffer deja vu every time you walk down the stairs in your home. Don’t get me wrong, I am a sentimental person but I know that it’s all in my head and will stay there if it’s that important.
I will say one thing though: if you see a homeless person on the street, do not give them money, buy them some food or a drink. If they are truly homeless and have no way of getting any nourishment, they will be grateful for this. Never forget that no matter where you are in this country, you are entitled to benefits, so there is at least some income coming into everyone’s pockets, including Bob who you see in that doorway every morning. It just depends how they spend that money, and how much £57 a week can really get you if you have nowhere to keep food or no way to get warm.