To Pee or Not to Pee

Have you considered what it must be like to be homeless, living on the streets and needing the loo? AMANDA EVANS from Homeless Pembrokeshire has had to…
To pee or not to pee, that is the question.
If you are homeless and in need of a toilet, your options are often limited. With more and more public toilets closing, and the ones that are left locked and controlled by electronic payment locks, it’s not easy or cheap to stay on the right side of the law.
We have all nipped behind a bush at some point, but try to do it in town or in plain sight and you are likely to get nicked. It’s true that some places like pubs or cafés may let you use the facilities and there are some in supermarkets, but these options are not always available.
Being street homeless for some usually means using public toilets at least some of the time, or maybe even most of the time. Everyone uses them, and we’ve all moaned about paying to have a wee. It used to be just one penny, hence the expression spending a penny. These days though it’s on average 40p, and we’ve even seen it set at £1. That’s bonkers.
According to the bladder and bowel community website, the average number of times a person needs to take a wee is six or seven in any 24 hours, more if you are not quite healthy. So some quick maths and we get to 7 x 40p = £2.80 per day just on weeing. If we say that, out of the seven times, we are able to use free facilities three times, that’s 4 x 40p = £1.60 per day, giving us a range of between: daily £1.60 to £2.80; weekly £11.20 to £19.60; monthly £48.53 to £84.93; yearly £582.36 to £1019.16.
Some people may take more chances getting nicked than others, but you can play around with the figures any way you want and you can see that it’s not easy or cheap relieving yourself if you are homeless.
This does not take into account (cough) No 2s or trying to have a wash. It’s just not great at all. If you are nicked, you could face a fine under the Public Order Act, and if you are really unlucky you could be done for indecent exposure under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, probably leading to an RSO (Registered Sex Offender) label.
You could argue that the revenue made from public toilets is used by the local authority to keep them clean and in good order. However, if you do use that argument, you obviously never use them, because, with a few exceptions, they are usually pretty grim places to spend that precious moment.
Others may argue that we pay our council tax, and that should cover public facilities too. We are not going to make that argument, we are not going to bash the local authorities, which probably do their best.
Instead, we’ll finish up this food for thought. Public “disabled” toilets, or more accurately “accessible” toilets have no actual legal stipulation that you have to be registered disabled to use them. Not all disabilities are visible and may not technically be recognised enough to get you on a register. In our view, it’s about immediate need, and if you have an immediate need and it’s your only option to keep you clean and legal, then go for it.
Now that is just our view, and we are not telling anyone to use them, we are not advocating anything, but we are saying that if you have an immediate need and you feel it’s your only option, we can’t see any reason not to. Given the figures above, Radar keys [for disabled toilets], which cost about £6.99, might be a critical piece of kit for anyone homeless.
Ultimately, why should anyone with so little have to pay to perform a human function which is uncontrollable?
Amanda Evans, Homeless Pembrokeshire

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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