Advent 3: Home for Christmas

 

p1090639
Breakfast in bed © Southampton Old Lady

It is a great time to relax when you go home for Christmas. I love spoiling my daughter. However some people have no homes to go to…

Southampton homeless in doorway
It is estimated that 117,000 children will be homeless in the UK this Christmas. London, Manchester and other cities and especially warmer cities in the South also have high numbers of rough sleepers that are difficult to calculate.    Photo of homeless sleeping in the City of Southampton © Southampton Old Lady

It has been very frosty in the UK and weather forecasters are predicting a white Christmas this year, which is no fun for those who have nowhere to go and are sleeping rough. Why not make a gift of a night in a homeless shelter or buy a Christmas dinner for someone homeless this year?

It is estimated that 117,000 children will be homeless in the UK this Christmas

For homeless young people who have run away to London there is Centre Point’s Home For Christmas appeal – click here

In my area the Society of St James organises such for the homeless click here

Or there is Crisis at Christmas click here

There must be many organisations in your area that you can help: A home is where the heart is.

Also in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Relax

 

Storm Imogen

Car crashed into tree as it collapsed on Hill Lane Southampton during the night - it has been cleared this morning.
Car crashed into tree as it collapsed on Hill Lane Southampton during the night – it has been cleared this morning. BBC News
Storm Imogen forecast over the British Isles today
Storm Imogen forecast over the British Isles today

So do I venture out?  I have important appointments in Bournemouth again today and a quick weather-check brings up police warnings not to venture out unless it is urgent, as Storm Imogen, which hit the British Isles yesterday, is expected to be worse than expected in the South of England today.

UPDATE: 23:25 pm: Well we ventured out when it was a bit ‘calmer’ and decided to keep to main roads through the New Forest avoiding any country lanes – very gusty but manageable. There was heavy, slow-moving traffic on our return, we passed a fallen tree across the A31 which was being cleared very quickly by a team of hard-hat workers. We heard that a tree had also fallen across the A35 (an alternative route between Bournemouth and Southampton). It was dark when we arrived home, but we are glad we took the risk.

Car trapped between two branches of a tree on the Romsey Road A35 (an alternative route). BBC photo
Car trapped between two branches of a tree on the Romsey Road A35 (an alternative route). BBC photo
A tree blew over in Southampton High Street but caused little damage. Media photo
A tree blew over in Southampton High Street but caused little damage. Echo Internet photo.

Homeless and Hopeless in Southampton

Anyone who comes to visit any country in Europe must notice at first hand the increase in the number of its own citizens sleeping rough on the streets. Depression like this – we haven’t seen since the 1930s. Let me tell you about my City…

Homeless teenager feeling very depressed and trying to keep warm
Homeless teenager feeling very depressed and trying to keep warm in Southampton’s town centre

When I was a child, the only homeless people one would see on the streets in my town were alcoholics. These were normally Merchant Seamen, who had spent their whole 6-months pay on booze and women in one go. Every December 25th, my father, usually a bit of Scrooge all year, would invite someone off the streets in to join us for Christmas Dinner. My brother and I would be quite put out about this and thought it diverted attention away from us. Not least of all because the invited guest would hit the free booze as soon as possible. They would swear and tell tales of sexual exploits that were not suitable for children’s ears. My mother would hide herself away in the kitchen – we kids would hide under the table. Once there was a Canadian novelist, who made money from selling his books all about the sea. He told some very interesting stories – but he still drank heavily.

Homeless couple who met on the streets. He is Eastern European, He lost his 0-hours contract job after an accident and was unaware of  sickness pay. She used to have an antiques business which failed.
Homeless couple who met on the streets. He is Eastern European, He lost his 0-hours contract job after an accident and was unaware of sickness pay. She had an antiques business which failed.
This couple live permanently here and have  made a tent-like structure to gain shelter and some privacy
This couple live permanently here and have made a tent-like structure to gain shelter and some privacy
This ex-serviceman is honoured with medals. He suffers  from Post Traumatic Distress Disorder since he came back from Afghanistan. His family were evicted for non-payment of rent after benefits were stopped after a discrepancy. His two children are staying with friends and he is hoping to raise enough money today so that he can spend an evening in a hostel so that he and his wife can be together.
This ex-serviceman claims he is honoured with medals. He suffers from Post Traumatic Distress Disorder since he came back from Afghanistan. His family were evicted for non-payment of rent after benefits were stopped after a discrepancy. His two children are staying with friends and he is hoping to raise enough money today so that he can spend an evening in a hostel so that he and his wife can be together.
These two women were both evicted onto the streets from a block of flats in Portsmouth. Everyone in the block who owed rent were evicted, some have come to Southampton to try and find work.
These two women were both evicted onto the streets from a block of flats in Portsmouth. Everyone in the block who owed rent were evicted, some have come to Southampton to try and find work.

Today however, many of the homeless are just normal people, who have hit bad times. Many cannot afford to drink or smoke. I have talked to a variety of homeless people in and around Southampton. I do not offer any analysis, but here is my general observations: The youngest I spoke to was 14 years-of-age, the oldest was 82. Other vulnerable people included those with mental illnesses. I have met five couples and two families. Most are single. All of them were white. About half were British (from every country except for Wales) and the other half were from a variety of Eastern European countries. About one-quarter were ex-servicemen. Two years ago, I noticed many with dogs, now however, I notice very few with dogs.

P1130006Before I go out, I try to make up bags of sandwiches using up any leftover ingredients that we would not get through ourselves. I include fruit and unwanted chocolates. If they are sleeping in nearby streets to where I live – I take cups of tea, coffee, soup or hot-chocolate. I have also recently discovered an organisation called Curb that re-distributes food waste via pop-up shops and cafes.

My own husband has debts to pay to the Department of Work and Pensions. Last Christmas he was informed that his Pension had been over-payed for the last eight years and sent a bill for £12,000 !  We are paying this back in instalments somehow. This Government is clawing back as much money as possible from the “welfare” budget (we had no idea that pension was welfare).

A New Help The Homeless in Southampton Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-homeless-in-southampton
A New Help The Homeless in Southampton Crowdfunder: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-homeless-in-southampton

We are certainly not alone, we were told that thousands were in the same situation.  The “trickle down theory’ is obviously not working here. When billionaires walk past the homeless to buy a new yacht at the marina, it is obvious to me that the rich are getting rich and the poor are getting poorer. It doesn’t seem too long ago that we thought of ourselves as comfortably off.

However, I am truly thankful that I am alive, with a roof over my head, I am not at war, I eat well and have a wonderful happy family.

So though I cannot hand out money, left-overs cost me next-to-nothing – and after all – “There but for the Grace of God go I”.

homeless man with his dogs in Salisbury
Homeless man with his dogs in Salisbury

So how is it where you are?

Snap as Seen 1: Boat with Discarded Alien

Boat with Discarded Alien, from Discarded Objects series © Southampton Old Lady
Boat with Discarded Alien, from Snap As Seen series
© Southampton Old Lady

Refugee Crisis: What The Media Is Hiding

Originally I only wanted to use my blog for “no comment” posts on political issues. But I am feeling more pressure now from other bloggers to speak out before WW3 starts. I am sure I am not the only one confused by the refugee crisis. And why the US is wanting to bomb Syria to help Syria?  And wanting to topple Assad instead of supporting him against ISIS? Coming up with that old ‘weapons of mass destruction’ thing, yet again?  We fell hook, line and sinker for it the first time – but surely we cannot be fooled again? I spent weeks trying to find out more and realised that there is a much higher agenda, which sadly, my country is also involved in. I am certainly no expert on the situation, but I thought the best way to find out more was to find someone from Syria to explain. So here she is – I found her on WordPress and hope she does not mind me re-blogging her site.

I do not have any political agenda here. The only link I have with Syria is that I won trip for two to go there in a raffle when I worked in Cyprus, near the Green Line in 1989. I was advised to give the tickets away to a Turkish couple as there were no diplomatic relations between Britain and Syria and was informed it might be dangerous for me.
I welcome any sensible comments on this subject, plus suggestions for other sites to visit, as long as they are not abusive, or party political. Please do not confuse this reblogged site with mine in any feedback. Thank you.

UPDATE: Not much of discussion here – however there is a discussion going on the this Sicilian Housewife’s blog – which makes for interesting reading: http://siciliangodmother.com/2015/09/24/the-italian-refugee-crisis-in-numbers/?c=10184