This morning driving through the shitty county town near where I live, I drove past a homeless man. I knew he was homeless due to his matted hair, untamed beard dirty out of date clothes and his peculiar mannerisms. I decided to go back home that way after completing my errands to make sure that this was in fact a homeless man and not some hipster in much need of a wash.
I drove back down the street to see the man a measly 30 yards from where I’d originally spotted him. He was sat on wall frantically looking around and chatting with himself. It became obvious that this poor man was struggling with some metal health issues. Now there was no strong lager in sight but its possible that alcohol maybe played apart in this mans unfortunate state, that said most pissed heads have already started drinking on the streets by 8:30 a.m. if they are punctual drunks that is.
Now I did not stop to see if I could help him out in some way, which I would have liked to, but fact of the matter is I’m skint myself and that is the only reason I did nothing. Sounds like I’m trying to justify it to myself and maybe I am I mean I could have ushered him in the direction of some clinic or something that may of gotten him the help he needed. But instead I drove on, I put the kettle on made myself a coffee and sat down and straight away thought about this poor man and the system that “works” and how it has failed him and how I as a human sort of failed him as well. It reminded me of a time; in fact the only time I’ve ever used the London underground. So I’m sat there on the tube surrounded by middle aged white men in suits and women in their smartest knee length skirts and blouses when a little old lady literally walked down the carriage and asked very politely for some money. Now her plea for money was accompanied by a bit of a sob story of which I’ve blacked out, as I’m sure if I remembered it, it would really haunt me to this day. I sort of recall it being about needing money for somewhere to sleep, there may of even been a child involved but it was a long time ago and I have done a lot of drinking to forget shit like that in my life. When she’d finished her little sob story and held out her frail little hand I looked around at people who really could spare a couple of quid and I watched them avoid her like she wasn’t there. Looking anywhere but in this poor old lady’s eyes. Now little old me from small county town probably should have done something but little old me from small county town was scared incase this was a scam or incase I pulled my wallet out on the underground and all of a sudden found myself at the bottom of a dog pile of youths who in turn emptied my pockets and left me with no money to get home nor a phone to inform anyone of where I was. But what really gets me is the fact that this helpless little old woman seeing that no one was going to give her anything, thanked us anyway and moved on. She was probably genuine and I probably let her down as I did today with the homeless man. I understand the people on in the carriage for not giving her anything as if you encounter a similar thing everyday on your daily commute it must get a little annoying and at the end of the day you can’t give money to all of them as you would probably have to get another job to fund your homeless giving habit, which in itself could escalate and leave you broke and homeless in some sort of ironic circle of events. These events do however leave me to question the state of care in this country. That some one in need doesn’t get the duty of care they deserve as a basic human right. At the end of the day the reason that these people don’t get the help they need is due to money, that five letter word that controls everything and everyone. From lack of NHS drop in centers to understaffed and underpaid mental healthcare professionals to the fact that most people don’t have a lot of disposable income to help others.
Unfortunately this complicated matter has know clear cut solution, nor does it appear to be getting any better while nothing more is being done.