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Is the plight of the Homeless so Hopeless?

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

or... what a difference one letter can make

Whilst writing Finding Rose in my 'Love should never be so hard' series, I have had to revisit the era upon which the story was based.

For several years after the finish of World War Two there were still lots of displaced persons. Now we see them on every High Street of every town and city. In those days they did not spend their time sat on the pavement with their bedding, begging bowl, and dog, waiting for handouts. Instead you would usually find them walking the main roads of Britain, drifting from town to town. We referred to them as 'tramps', but not in a derogatory way.

Occasionally, if they were really desperate, they would knock on a door to ask for a drink of water. That may lead to a round of bread or a sandwich, either by request or offered voluntarily, but it was rarely demanded.

Of course, tramps were pitied. They were a warning to children of what would happen to you if you....well, what? Would it be the fate awaiting you if you didn't do something that you should have, or something to fear if you did something that you shouldn't have? There was never one answer. Just as there is not one single reason for homelessness.

In many cases the reasons may have been the same as they are now - illness, mental or otherwise; economic, being unemployed or unemployable; family break up through any of the above, or through relationship breakdown. You will notice that I have not mentioned drugs. It was hardly ever the cause, although alcoholism may well have featured.

Friends of mine actively volunteer for the Homeless In Teignbridge Support charity and have a much better understanding of the underlying reasons hidden from most of us. My band and others have also raised cash at charity concerts for H.I.T.S., so I am not unsympathetic, even though I rarely toss loose change into begging bowls in Exeter.

What I will do, however, is to drop the occasional 'Tesco Ready Meal' into the hands of what I consider to be a worthy recipient. Occasionally this is without their knowing, if they are fast asleep in some underpass. I figure that if they are fed, and watered, then they can survive another day to allow them to discover their own solutions.

For the main part it is an expression - a message - that 'somebody cares' about them, even if each party is anonymous.

Two songs remind me of this, although one is clearly about not forgetting that some old people with homes may still be lonely and need human contact. Both are songs by the late John Prine that I would urge you to listen to: 'Hello in There' and 'Billy the Bum'.

Ironically, as I have just discovered - the Hello in There Song could stand for H I T S. The plight of the homeless should not be so hopeless.

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