originally posted by: burdman30ott6
a reply to: CharlieSpeirs
Here's a hard fact of science: It's a self correcting problem. You let each individual hit rock bottom on their own volition, and then you let them
choose whether to fight for their own life and turn things around, or if they choose not to fight it is their own choice. You cannot force someone to
want a better life so much that they'll change their own life to get there, so why should that time, effort, and money even be wasted trying to force
This is the attitude that the UK courts have taken, to the frustration of some, when charges of anti-social behaviour are brought before them. It is
predictably common for the judge to conclude that "they will change when they want to change" and dismiss. They're right of course but regular
people, with homes and indoor plumbing, don't want to see
those flailing around at the bottom. They want them put away, or as I have
frequently heard, put out of their misery with "a bullet to the head". So while the judges are right there remains a problem of choice in how to get
back up and the longer you have been homeless, outside of normal society and behaviours, it is imperceptibly difficult to get back up. And equally,
when it is the only community you have had, it is often more painful to realise you have to turn your back on that family to make it out alive
I come into contact with the homeless community where I live in the course of my job. Over the 4 years I have been here I have developed friendships
with some of them and although every story is different, there is a pervading history of institutionalism. Some of the guys I've met purposefully
cultivate their appearance, behaviour and odour as a shield against personal invasion. They use aggressive body movements to push you out of their
space. It can take years to get them to drop that facade and let you inside.
Literacy too remains a huge barrier to getting help. There is less shame and stigma attached to an inability to read and write, and provisions made
to remedy it, but with men and women who have been passed from one institution to the next all their lives, it is almost impossible for them to let
down their guards. Damage to cognitive processes too is a key factor, from trauma, exacerbated through substance abuse and poor nutrition. For some,
the only option would be to forceable detain, forceably detox and forceably retrain...which as the courts know, is no long term solution and one that
invariably leads to recidivism.
Last winter there were four deaths in the homeless community here, two of them were accidental overdoses, two clear suicides, one, Craig was
devastating. The kid never stood a chance and the world kept #ting on him. A year before he died, staying in a hostel, some kids had taken an empty
syringe, injected him with air - for the laugh. He was then so manhandled and mistreated that he got a secondary infection that left him dependent on
crutches. Given the choice, he went back to the homeless community rather than suffer more institutional "care". He wanted to get out but the routes
out were just as hostile as what he was leaving, and the light was too far off to trust.
On a brighter note, I bumped into my friend Des on Monday night. I haven't seen him since the Summer. I got a big hug! After over ten years of
chronic homelessness, the last 3 of which he has been in front of the courts no less than 20 times, he has taken the steps to change. Has detoxed and
been clean for 3 months, has his own "gaff" too. He's climbed Everest, but he's the exception that proves the rule, and it remains to be seen if he
can maintain it. It can be harder and lonelier contained in four walls, than it is in the biting cold but with others to share that misery.
It's a tough one. People who lose their homes are one thing, those who have never had a real home and the sense of security that entails, are a
different kettle of fish.