I have read the couple of senseless comments on your website regarding the story of the homeless man being assaulted and I see there was another one that had to be taken down.
This attack has really upset me; but how can I be surprised in hate-filled Doncaster, my town that has so many great things going on, yet will never be great as a whole because of its small-mindedness, the town that voted ‘leave’ because it wanted ‘immigrants’ sent home.
And so it is with the homeless: We don’t understand and it is our perpetual human condition to dislike and fear what we don’t understand.
A few years ago in town I was pushed over and kicked because I had engaged in talking to a homeless person while I was on a night out.
“What you talking to that scum for?” My answer was, and still is, just making that person feel noticed, and human, for a short while.
I think people generally look the other way when shopping in town because they are uncomfortable with what they see: dirty individuals in dirty clothes, possibly drinking. We maybe feel guilty because our life is better than theirs so we hurry past with our arms full of purchases. Or we convince ourselves that somehow these people choose this lifestyle, or deserve it in some way.
Having worked with homeless people for many years, I assure you that no-one consciously chooses to be homeless, no-one consciously chooses to have an addiction or consciously chooses the drug or alcohol related poor mental health and total lack of dignity (stealing, begging, working in the sex industry). Neither do they choose to be part of a statistic where the average life expectancy is 47 in a time where we are ALL supposed to be living longer.
What if you were to learn that their is a high correlation between heroin use and people who were sexually abused as children? The same correlation between former pit villages and addiction? Nothing is straightforward about why people end up on the streets. What is straightforward is that people sleeping on the streets, especially in doorways in town centres, are really very vulnerable, as vulnerable as the elderly and I’m fairly certain no one would write insults if an elderly person was attacked. They need your support and protection, not abuse about how much they deserve to be kicked and beaten.
When you see a homeless person, no matter how shocking their appearance or lifestyle may be to you, or whatever they may or may not have done, remember that this is a person as much as you are. Get well soon ‘Carl’, whoever you are.