Hairless for the Homeless
I must have been about 12 when I saw the TV play Cathy Come Home. It had a profoundly shocking effect on the little girl I still was. To be homeless, to have nowhere to feel safe. It terrified me.
In my mid-twenties I was involved in animal rights, and through that met people who showed me how many properties were empty and going to ruin. I lived in squats for a while, some of them very grand in the lovely city of Bath. Whatever the rights or wrongs of that, it gave me a taste of the thing I feared most, but it was only a taste. While I lived in properties that no one seemed to want or care about , and was effectively “homeless” with a tribe of other “activists”, I knew I had a loving family I could go back to, if I could just swallow my pride and give up my independence.
Years on, homelessness has remained a fear, but I have been so fortunate to be able to say that, as I look out over an amazing view of Pembrokeshire, life has given me places of safety over and over again.
It isn’t like that for so many other people. We know this of course, and ordinarily that’s a terrible thing to admit in a country as wealthy as this. I won’t bore you with endless statistics or with how complicated the systems are for housing. I won’t even go on about the serious mental health issues that are affecting so many people who are without a safe place to go.
I will say that sleeping rough probably shortens lifespan by about 30 years, with many dying before they are 47 years old, compared with 77 years old for the general population
I will also say that people sleeping on the streets are almost 17 times more likely to have been the victims of violence while sleeping rough. More than one in three have experienced being kicked or hit, or some other form of abuse.
Finally, let’s add that it isn’t just people sleeping rough on the streets. According to Homeless Facts, (https://homelessfacts.co.uk/), there are around 51,500 “homeless people”, including people living in temporary accommodation, and that also means sofa-surfing or people stuck in dangerous rentals.
Imagine that on an ordinary day, on a day when it might seem to you that maybe it’s not so terrible to get a bit wet or a bit cold.
Personally I can’t see a time when it is ok, but surely, now, when people have been told to stay home, stay nourished, stay warm and stay away from each other… when the whole world is readying itself for a potentially unprecedented risk… well, it gives me the heebee-jeebies!
So what did I do? Oh god… it looks so pathetic compared with the doctors and nurses and care workers and all those people out there making sure we can be fed and watered and getting hunkered down in the hope of slowing down this threat to us all…
Well, I shaved my hair off. I even did it earlier than I said I would because I was afraid I would chicken out and I had already told Homeless Pembrokeshire that I would ask for donations for them and the work they do in bringing comfort and hope and practical solutions to so many people who simply cannot just come home.
Check Homeless Pembrokeshire out on Facebook.
It does some amazing work in Pembrokeshire.
If you would like to donate, its bank details are: Homeless Pembrokeshire. Account: 17905364. Sort Code: 80-22-60.
Or ask it for details of its Amazon Wish.