484 PEOPLE DIED HOMELESS IN THE UK SO FAR THIS YEAR,
BUT DO YOU CARE.
December 18th, 2018: By Daniel K Swan
484 is over twice as many as have died from terrorism across all of Western Europe in the last 8 years.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up on the streets of the world's richest city, home to more multi-millionaires than any other city on Earth, without money in your pocket or a place to stay.
Derryn, 26 years old, has been on the streets of London for over a year now.
I've known Derryn for just over a year. We met in Trafalgar square, where I do my street art. A few months ago I asked Derryn if he would let me tell his story to whoever has ears to hear it. He agreed, so here it is.
The Government has quoted a timeline of 2027 to end homelessness, while annually more people are dying homeless in the U.K than the total deaths due to terrorism across all of western Europe, for all of the last 8 years combined.
I have been on the streets myself, both in the United States where I would drive an hour across the city in my shiney sports car to sleep near the water gardens of Fort Worth, TX and across the U.K and Europe, where I have cycled the continent twice and recently, last winter, spent three months sleeping on the streets of London and visiting the homeless shelters from the inside out.
Here are a few learnings from my experiences.
Most of the Charities and Shelters are running as if they were for profit entities, serving money rather than humanity. They are administered by people who use practices developed and adopted widely throughout the for profit sector, where the bottom line is all money. This kind of thinking has no place in the service of humanity. Human beings can not be reduced to resources, nor assets, nor numbers on a page.
They see their "business" as one of acquiring funding from the government, and they do this on a per capita basis. If an individual comes to them without any access to funding, meaning state support for mental health, physical disability, some issue with obtaining work or whatever, then they will simply not help. Most have learned the system, a process of bring in potential donors to see the work that they do and presenting them with the good while hiding the bad. They have certainly provided help, but not anywhere near to the standard one would imagine.
There are incredible people working at all of these places, who make life bearable for those visiting despite the horrible system within which they operate, but they are not enough to stop the red tape from making it a demeaning experience for many.
There are certain "clients" - their term not mine, that are held up as success stories for the Charities. "Clients", I know.
These "clients" are the chosen poster children for their funding campaigns. They are the ones you will see on the adverts, though in one case I know personally a "client" used for one major charities' campaign was not at all happy with their photograph being used and actually hated the "charity" altogether.
Ask the homeless on the streets, they will all tell you the same. These "Charities" are businesses. They are just like any corporate division seeking funding to perpetuate their existence without providing real results. It's not cool. It made me very angry, but unfortunately they're all that stands between the homeless and absolute abandonment.
What about the churches and faith groups? Love thy neighbour? Feed the poor?
There is one group that stands out like a mountain above all the others, that is the Sikh based group, S.W.A.T. This incredible group of human beings is one of the most beautiful examples of humanity I have ever seen on this Earth.
For over a year I have seen them come faithfully, many times per week, to serve the most vulnerable members of our community without any desire for recognition or praise. They truly are living the values that the Sikh faith holds dear, and act as an example to all others seeking to do the same, and a mirror to those who do not.
The Christian church of London should be doing so much, given that together they own property in every London borough. Yet I see next to no one from the Christian faith groups regularly on the streets. Maybe once a month or so you will see them, offering food on a Sunday and then a lift to church for a service, but it is nothing compared to the numbers professing to exist within the city of London. "Service" is called service for a reason. It is a reminder that those who profess to be of God, followers of the Christ, should serve. Service means do good. I don't see many doing good. I see a lot of Christian Churches doing nothing, and plenty doing harm.
Combined, the London Christian population would easily be able to find, fund or build accommodation for the poorest on our streets. Why they don't is beyond me. It is literally the only lesson repeated over and over and over and over again throughout every major religion in the world - love each other. Everything gets better, all of life in every way improves, when you love each other. That's the plan. That's the design. That is the way to heaven. Any one who reflects upon this truth will realize it is absolutely infallible, and the solution to absolutely every human problem. With love, we build a world free from all injustice, and our planet becomes a heavenly realm. Some people on Earth do not know what love looks like, and it is up to those that do to show them. Christians should be doing more.
Every six months or so I saw an Islamic group on the streets, bringing great food but also very clearly there to convert the people willing to engage. I would encourage such people to focus upon service rather than preaching, and by your service you may learn from those you serve, and by your service demonstrate your beliefs. The same message goes to all faith groups looking to win hearts to the truth they hold dear. Live it. Serve humanity, and humanity will gravitate toward the truth that so far has not been seen in our modern age.
I have seen incredible groups of people come and serve from the love of their hearts.
There is a really important thing which happens at these "hand outs". "Normal" people treat the homeless as if they were normal. These, overwhelmingly, are beautiful human beings for whom service and humanity come naturally. They may not do it every day, but it is within them, and they are here in obedience to that spirit. The result is a beautiful moment in which the people recieving can interact with someone else on a level unlike before.
I have seen hearts broken many times by people who thought they were doing a good deed by helping a homeless person, and then when the homeless person though that meant they were a welcomed and valued human, they were harshly corrected.
One example was when a friend, Z, was given a rock by a woman working as a receptionist at an office block. The person, Z, was so grateful for the rock - because he needed it to create a stone sculpture for his art class at the shelter/charity. He worked so hard upon that sculpture, which for him represented the burying of his past and the beginning of an entirely new life. I saw him put his whole soul into it, and the joy he had in sharing with me the moment of it's intended burial. A ceremony of freedom and rebirth.
We went to the office where he had received the rock from, out of one of the plant pots that were sitting there, and he was quickly intercepted after entering the building. Loud and full of joy he went to show them his sculpture and give thanks, and they quickly told him he was not welcome, that he should leave immediately, and not return again. I saw his heart break, he understood immediately. He is not a man. He is a homeless man. He is not welcome.
I want to tell you all of the stories from these streets. I want to tell you about the things I saw in New York, In LA, in Buenos Aires and all across America. I want to tell you about Paris, Baden Baden, Rome, India, Singapore. I want to share with you it all, but I can't do that in one article and I can't do it in a day. This has been 4 years of my life, living with and learning from the most vulnerable and marginalized in all of society. I have learned more than most can imagine in this process, and retained my soul. My humanity. Who I truly am and was, before the world lifted me up on a mountain of lies.
I have literally stood at the top of societies mountain, eaten my dinner in the same restaurant as the Pope, slept beside the queen of England.
I've seen this world inside out, and I tell you it's all inside you. If you have not love, then you have nothing. If you will not learn to love, then you will live in a loveless place forever, and that place is you. The only way you learn to learn is by believing in love, and serving love. God is love.
There is a spiritual group I saw come once, and then there are the angels.
The angels are a group of women, their family and friends, who come together once every two months to help the homeless of London. These girls amaze me because I have seen them turn up on their own multiple times, just a few and a car or two. Surrounded by men they come out and start giving what they can away. They are so brave to come into what must be a very intimidating environment, because they're arrival is anticipated by the people on the street and so they form a huge crown around them.
In summer it's not so bad when there is less rain and need for warm clothes or sleeping bags, but winter is terrible for the homeless.
I met the most incredible human beings in these shelters. Beautiful people inside and out. Truly incredible people.
I also met individuals who probably should not be working with vulnerable
not even nearly good enough.
"People won't understand until they do a day in my shoes."
"I only do it if I have to do it, not because I want to. It's embarrassing".
"Until you've been on the streets yourself, you will never know what it's like".
Can I get this biometric card, and does it give me citizenship?
Whitfield added that he can't afford to pay for a biometric residence permit or for legal assistance.
Adam says: "If you arrived before 1973, and can show you have not lost your status (through two or more years' absence or criminality), you will be able to obtain a Biometric Residence Permit confirming there is no time limit on your stay.
"However, settlement/indefinite leave to remain is not the same as citizenship.
"If you have held indefinite leave to remain for over 12 months, and have lived legally in the UK for over five years, or three if you are married to a British citizen, and can meet the life and language requirements, amongst other requirements, you should be able to apply to become British.
"This will cost you £1,330 for the application, and the fee is retained if the application is refused."
"They wanted to see how homeless people beg for money basically, and I said 'I don't beg for money'".
"Every major religion teaches fundamentally the same things: don't do bad things, don't think bad things, seek what is good, do what is good, be honest, grow in love, learn to forgive, always be humble. If you don't do these things, you'll end up in a bad place. Welcome to that place".
"There is enough for all we need, but not for all our greed" - Some Guy
The fact that we have allowed society to get to this juncture is a manifestation of our individual denial of responsibility toward ourselves and each other. The truth is, we don't seek truth. We don't live by truth. We don't believe in truth.
Here is truth.
Every human life is eternal, both in the temporal sense and the infinite sense.
What do I mean?
I mean that everyone experiences the fullness of life they are able to experience, no more, no less. This experience, is all that we have. It is, therefore, the eternity of out experience as a being. There are as many eternities as there are individual lives. We are eternal. Life is eternal. Your life is eternal, no matter how long it lasts, it is eternity.
What, therefore, will your eternity be filled with. What will you take with you. What knowledge of self, what experience of beauty, of love, of peace, of joy, of service, of gratitude. Will you come to know yourself as the spiritual children of life itself?
Every major religion teaches fundamentally the same things: don't do bad things, don't think bad things, seek what is good, do what is good, be honest, grow in love, learn to forgive, always be humble. If you don't do these things, you'll end up in a bad place. Welcome to that place.
The other side of those things, is the pathway to a place that has recently come to be known as hell, but formerly known as the underworld or to various different societies as x,y,z.
This is a place of lovelessness, a place of deciet, a place where one feels greater than the other, where hatred reigns over forgiveness, where understanding is in very short supply, and greed is strangling the whole world. The further we persist in these things, the deeper into their manifestation we go. Eventually, as all the dystopian films have been trying to warn us, we would inevitably fall into a bottomless pit. This is not conjecture. This is real, hard, physical truth. This is the spiritual law of the universe, under which we are all bound, until we each become freed by love and truth. When you serve love and truth, truth and love serve you. You go willingly to your death, so that you may bring others to life, and by so doing hopefully change the course of a lost future. Such beings don't just give us what they have, they give us what they are, and they are the way to life. Freedom from all the chains of selfishness, and the gateway to a place of the infinitely selfless self. A spiritual being who picks up his life and lays it down at will. One who can take any form, me or you, Earth or star, ocean or wave, and awaits our awakening or actively invites us toward it. This being is The One, the first and last, the eternal spirit, whom we call our God.
Compare that to the £500M spent on aid for the people of Yemen/Syria.
How can people help someone on the streets?
"Get him in accommodation or a hostel that's as simple as it gets".
What is the worst thing you've experienced recently on the streets?
"Being glassed and having to have surgery on my little finger. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".
There are a lot of us out here now really struggling with this world, and we're tired of all the ways it's doing us wrong. That strain is only going to get greater, if we don't work together and try to do something about it.
This is my idea, the first part anyway. If you're not going to support it, I hope you have a better one.
"It's not easy. Nobody wants to be on these streets".
You get judged a lot when you're sleeping down on the ground".
"The hardest thing about being homeless is being homeless. It's a hard world out there."
"The hardest thing about being homeless is being homeless. It's a hard world out there."
"The thing people don't realize about homeless people is that they need to speak to the homeless person on a level and not pre judge them for being in a sleeping bag."
"Society is so brainwashed that they get consumed by nonsense. People haven't got compassion".
People keep saying "homelessness is a complex issue", but no, it isn't.
You give a person a home, they're not homeless anymore.
You take all the land in a country and say somebody owns it, then charge people for a place to live, then take all the arable land and say someone owns that, then charge people money for food, then say you can't work because you aren't from this country, and give them a stipend that's less than what the average person makes in a day, you've got a problem. A real, life threatening and entirely unnecessary problem, because of some created complexity.
It's not a real problem, like death or being out on the streets without food and shelter and no one willing to give you either unless you have money. That's a real problem. This, is a problem, of perception.
We percieve the value of our economy, of our invented token of value, which itself is worthless, to be greater than that of humanity. We have sold our very heart in exchange for money. Something that cannot hold us, cannot care for us, cannot love us, cannot forgive us, cannot give anything to us beyond what another human being is willing to exchange for it. In fact, all the value of life, which lies in the planet and one another, is hidden by money. Thus, again, this is a problem of perception.
The workers of truth, are here to solve problems of perception.
The percieved value added to society of £40Bn worth of arms spending is greater than the percieved value of protecting every endangered species on the planet despite the never ending choir of experts pointing to imminent worldwide ecological collapse if we continue to do relatively nothing.
Governments and agencies will bost figures higher than the average person can imagine, but as someone who working in the banking industry and sees the truth behind these figures, I can tell you they are nothing compared to what man spends upon defence (X annually, Y in the U.K, Z in Europe) and upon food production (x, Y, Z), Pharma (X,Y,Z), anti terrorism (X,Y,Z) marketting (X,Y,Z) and so on.
The question really is, do you care. Do you really, truly, care.
If you do, you have to stand up, and you have to change the world. One human being at a time, we have to change the broken system in which we have become entangled, by learning to love our neighbour and not our money. If we do this, every single human problem disappears. Every single one. There is not one exception.
Malnutrituon goes away.
Conflicts go away.
Dictatorships go away.
Disparity of wealth goes away.
Ecological damage goes away.
The exercsion of power by the few upon the many goes away.
The end of all human suffering and the beginning of endless human being begins when we begin to truly, actually, fully, love one another. When we respect each other, when we care for each other, when we work with rather than against each other, this world will completely and rapidly change for the good of all. When this happens, we will build a world without the need for corruptible government structures and "supreme" leaders, without corporate entities owning more than half the nations resources, without the concept of human resources but the celebration of human beings, without the need to exchange money for food.
The way we do things today is not just dumb, it is monumentally stupid, and it will take a different kind of attitude and thinking to the one which created to change it. It will take patience, it will take discipline, it will take work, it will take understanding, it will take a lot of people to stand up for what they truly believe in, to live a life of purpose. It will take us all respecting each other's beliefs with the right not to become subject to them. It will take true love, but it only takes a few. A few of us to stand up and say this is not the way it should be, I am not a part of a world which leaves its people on the streets. That's not the world in me, and I will join with those who believe in something better, to take us to (it will take us to) a better place.
You want the world to change, you've got to go out and change it, but where will you go? Here, is the answer.
We're building a place, we as in us and you, the ones who get it, to get away from this world and help build a better one. A fair one. A free one. A beautiful one. A place where there is no profit, but lots of change. A place where everyone is treated with respect, and leaders are the ones we follow, not the ones we fear.
It can't be about me. It has to be about us, about you. It has to be a collective social shift, from the value of money and physical experiences, to the inner experience of being human. The concern for your fellow man, before the judgement. The companion, before the detraction. The giving, before the taking. We have to wake up. We are the key to our collective survival or suffering. It is up to us to make the difference, at every level.
All the powerful people are powerful because we give them that power. The guns they point at us are paid for with our taxes, and built by our labour. We must choose not to waste ourselves building or sustaining war machines. We must choose not to support unethical and unsustainable farming. We must choose not to ignore the suffering of our neighbours, and we must choose to support those who poison our food and steal from far away lands (links). We must choose a better way, we must choose to change.
Without our choices, what have we left.
The U.K spends £9.7Bn per year on coffee.
The U.K spends £16.1Bn on Alcohol.
The U.K spends £4.2Bn on soft drinks.
The U.K spends over £32Bn per year on clothing.
There is a spiritual group I saw come once, the odd corporate group lead by a street charity, and then there are the angels.
By the way I never saw any of the multimillion funded homeless charities on the streets. Never, ever. Not once. Not once did I ever meet a so called "outreach" worker. In what was total between 4 - 6 months of sleeping on the streets during the winter months, I have not met one. Not one. We, myself and those I have been with during those times, have not been in hard to find areas. We have been places one would expect to find the homeless. Does this mean they don't come? No. It just means they're completely ineffective if and when they do. I don't know if they're too intimidated to go to the places the homeless really sleep, but as I say I haven't seen them. It's a job they don't need paying for. The homeless could easily do it themselves. Just build us a place that's safe and dry, has free and clean showers, and we'll go there. You'll get all the metrics you want, but of course such a place will immediately be over run and over capacity - revealing the scale of the issue. Fortunately or unfortunately, it's obvious enough as it is.
If you live in the United Kingdom, sit down and read this clearly. There are people out there, wandering the streets, who cannot find a place to live or work. They are literally forced onto the street, with no way to buy food, no way to buy clothes, no way to wash, no way to rent, no way to pay a deposit, and hardly any way to work.
There are people out there, thousands of people, sleeping on the streets while they work in the cities. This is happening, to real human beings, just like you. In your country. Why.
Do we not have the resources?
Do we not have the space?
Or do we not care.
I hope you care.
Do you care?
According to government data, analysed by online estate agent HouseSimple, the number of empty homes has risen for the first time in a decade to 205,293,
Meanwhile in 2017 there were 20237 empty homes in London. Homes. Whole homes.
Compare that to the 8000 sleeping on the streets.
How is this happening.