Published in edited form by The Guardian October 8 2015 This begins with a man in the street. I often used to notice him, because he looked so out of place. In amongst the townies with their anoraks and sensible shoes, he was blatantly a country man in weather-beaten tweeds and clumpy boots. More than […]
Stories categorized “Housing”:
Somewhere in some dark corner of this country, there is an impoverished and homeless man who does not know that he has been given a bank account full of cash which could change his life.
Bob Easton was half asleep the first time he saw her. He was lying in the doorway of the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand, well wrapped up in his sleeping bag and his blankets, and on an ordinary night he would probably have been fast asleep by now. But it was Friday, the worst night of the week on the streets, when you’re more likely than ever to get a kick in the ribs from some lager lover, so Bob Easton had one eye open for trouble, which is how he came to spot Sharon.
They were an odd couple. He looked about 20, she seemed a little younger but, although they were adults, they had the look of lost infants, straying together through the streets of Sheffield, clutching each other for safety, wide-eyed and aimless, drifting towards the sound of a Salvation Army band, and when one of the Salvation Army officers got them talking, he heard a story that was just as odd.
The Big Issue is famous for rescuing homeless people. Two thousand men, women and runaway adolescents now sell the magazine on the streets where they sleep and earn themselves enough money to survive. But it ought to be famous for something else: the Big Issue is just about the last refuge of honest, angry, investigative journalism. And there’s a lesson in that.
It was a bad night in Bethlehem when a couple of travellers found themselves forced by a housing crisis to sleep in a lowly cattle shed. Yet, on an ordinary night in England nearly two thousand years later, Jake Sudworth frequently has to do the same.