Ron is homeless. Ron is sleeping rough.
Ron used to be someone highly thought of by his family and his work mates. Ron first ran into trouble when his relationship started breaking down and his partner, who held the tenancy of their house, began to experience serious mental health problems. Ron tried to cope for some considerable time but his work became increasingly difficult to manage. He started drink to cope with the incessant arguments and his two children went to live with their grandmother for a ‘short time’. It was very difficult to look rationally on the world as his partner struggled with her own daemons.
Eventually he was laid off work for a whole variety of reasons, even though some people had tried to help. Friends disappeared and gradually Ron started sleeping in the car to have some peace and quiet. One day he returned to the house to find locks had been changed and his stuff was in two bags on the front step. Shortly afterwards, due to drink and further substance misuse in an effort to wash away reality Ron had to sell his old car for far less than it was worth and the month helped for about a month. Physically his body deteriorated. He became less and less aware of boundaries and eventually he was arrested for petty shoplifting. Further downward spiral occurred when he gave up hope on hearing that his children didn’t want to see him any more. Doorways, bus shelters, underpasses and occasionally a hostel became his home. Some flashes of his old life intruded from time to time as he remembered things going by, but even the memory of comfort was eroded to such a degree that it joined his self-esteem and confidence at the bottom of the pile. Now it would be nice to talk of a rough sleepers initiative or many of the other groups who are dedicated to stopping people having to live in this way but there are still thousands of rough sleepers on the streets of our towns and cities today and, depending who you listen to, 60-80,000 children living in temporary accommodation with inadequate facilities and uncertain futures.
I used to work for Shelter in the 1970’s and I remember the passion we felt towards a society that allowed this to happen in the so called ‘western industrialised word’. Decades have gone past. For Ron though, and thousands like him, it might as well just have been yesterday.
The underclass in our society is ever present and its existence is still as much of a disgrace as it ever was.by