We may live in the twenty-first century, but for millions of us poverty is a daily reality. Here in the United Kingdom, we are appalled by the endless stories in the newspapers and on television about millions of people in other countries living in squalor, wondering where their next meal is coming from while our very own homeless are worrying about where they can find shelter and something to eat.
While England is one of the richest countries in the western world, we currently have one third of the population (eighteen million) living below the poverty line. Of that eighteen million, several hundred thousand people here are homeless. This makes no sense at all when you consider that currently there are over seven hundred thousand empty homes across the nation. It begs the simple question, why don’t we take care of our own poor and starving first, before sending millions of pounds of aid to other countries?
Answer – no politician gives a damn about what is happening on the streets of his/her own country. All the heartless bastards care about is pleasing their rich backers and looking good among their international peers! The age old divide between rich and poor is still with us. While the rich grow richer, the poor are increasingly put upon.
Instead of the government and local authorities doing the decent thing, they make things worse. In their obsessive drive to economise and cut back on public spending, all benefits which the poor by necessity are forced to rely upon are cut, making basic accomodation unaffordable for many. Which is why so many people are forced to sleep in doorways. Recently some local authorities and businesses showed their true colours by installing spikes (see photo above) to discourage rough sleepers. In several instances, thankfully their callous response was publically exposed, forcing companies like the UK’s major supermarket chain Tesco to remove the spikes from outside their buildings.
While wages, benefits and the state pension are not increasing, prices are. For many people these days, visiting their local food bank each day or week has taken over from spending in the supermarkets and high streets. In fact the number of food banks springing up across the UK is on the increase.
Believe me I know what it feels like to be on the recieving end of the State’s indifference. Due to no job being available to me back in the middle of the first decade of this new century, I had a major mental breakdown. Consequently I became homeless. With no immediate help available, out of necessity I was forced to sleep rough. Being written off by society at the ripe old age of fifty-three back then was a shock to the system. Even though I am now retired and housed, existing on a minimum state pension, paying the ever increasing bills or feeding myself is still a toss up.
No one reading this should feel smug. It happened to me. It can so easily happen to you. In this day and age, becoming homeless and poor is just a short step away for all of you if you lose your job. Just because you live in a rich western nation is no guarantee of financial security. By the same token, if our government can’t, or won’t, house the homeless, our politicians refusal to honour the referendum result to leave the EU should come as no surprise either!!