By Eddie Luigi
Let me make it clear from the outset, I have never been homeless. I have on occasion slept on the street at night, but was able to go home after I sobered up. I am not an alcoholic, although I have drunk alcohol to excess on many an occasion. I am not a drug addict, but growing up in the 60s I have experimented with a few recreational substances.
I did not have the best of childhoods, but then again there were childhoods that were worse than mine, and that is not the point of this blog.
Homelessness for me is like China, I’ve never been there but I know it exists. So, what gives me the right to talk about homelessness. The right of a human being to feel compassion, empathy and distress at the suffering of a fellow human being, that is what gives me the right.
Every night I have known where my bed was, in an adjoining room in my home. Which brings me neatly to a definition of what is a home.
A home is where you reside, it is your address, it gives you a place in society, it is your shelter, it is where you can keep warm in the winter, where you can keep cool in the summer, it is where you keep you possessions, it is where your friends and family go to visit you, it is where you can invite people for a social occasion, it is where you can be private, it is where you feel comfortable, it is where you can relax, it is where you feel safe.
You may have noticed that in the above definition the word ‘you’ and ‘your’ crop up a lot. That is because your home defines you.
There are many reasons why people become homeless.
Some are fleeing from war zones, some are fleeing from domestic war zones, some are homeless following a relationship breakdown, some because their families can no longer tolerate their anti social behaviour, some because they spent their rent money to feed their habit.
Whatever the reason, once you become homeless you lose all those things that mean ‘home’.
On leaving school no one chooses homeless drug addict as a career option.
So when you pass that person bundled up in a sleeping bag in a shop doorway, do you see a homeless alcoholic drug addict? Or do you see a broken human being that needs some sort of help?
There, but for the grace of what ever deity you believe in, go you or I.
Eddie Luigi has experience of the Care system and has worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau; assisting many people at crisis point.
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