Thanks to all who came to the leaving do, there's a few photos so email me for the link. As I spent the night sleeping upon the lawns rolling up to St Georges Hall I noticed a distinct loneliness: I was the only bedless sole in that area, that night. Although warm, it was an uncomfortable night's sleep, and once again prompted an empathic surge for the plight of many drifters and deprived.
Since I was moving house, Faith and I put some out of date Guiness, Tonic Water, and a can of "Tusk" deodorant into the Van and delivered the goods to a known retreat. I hope they get found, and add a spot of cheer to an otherwise cold night. Apparently though, homelessness is on the decline. CommonKnowledge:
A recent tally suggests that the number of people sleeping on the streets has dropped by more than 70% between 1998 and 2003.
Why the tremendous decrease? British police are increasingly tough on the panhandlers--either slapping them with fines or simply arresting them. In addition to this, the British government has undertaken new campaigns to deter income-earners from giving to beggars. These campaigns point out compassionate would-be givers that beggars are more likely to spend the money their are given on drugs than food and shelter-
And there's me respecting consumption desires, and acknowledging homeless people as intelligent humans (which is not the same as cost-benefit optimizers). I remember a feeling of hollow bemusement when an Arriva bus first told me not to give money to the homeless: one can never ignore the frontline of an issue. Indeed a statistic once shocked me: something like 50% of "beggers" are undercover police officers. How's that for eroding civic trust?
As friends would testify, I am not traditionally charitable but the war shouldn't be on the homeless, rather the system that prevents them from unlocking their desire for a better life. We shouldn't shoot the symptoms: shoot the cause.