When we look back I am sure that we will view our current times as ‘interesting.’ Perhaps confusing. Perhaps lacking in clarity and order.
I find myself wanting to imagine myself looking back: I want, in some sense, to get some clarity out of this situation. I want to extract the essentials from the white noise of everyday political life. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to believe current political behaviour. It’s almost impossible to trust the leadership, yet also impossible to trust what else is on offer.
There is only one big issue for me today. It is an ‘all hands to the pump’ time. It is “How do we stop the slip into recession destroying the lives of millions?” time. I am repeatedly saying that we started The Big Issue 29 years ago to ‘help the homeless to help themselves’. The homeless on the streets, in the doorways, in the parks, under their cardboard mockeries of home. In that time we have had to deal with thousands of people who have become homeless. We were not there to prevent them slipping into street life.
But now, in Covid-19 times, we face the most spectacular event of our lives: possibly hundreds of thousands of people falling homeless. Dwarfing all the homelessness that has ever occurred in these isles. And not just in these isles. It is a universal condition. Yet, in the midst of this there seems little political clarity. People are seemingly carrying on doing their best to undermine the authority of the government. Why? Because the government has seemed to be signally wrong on so many counts with regard to Covid-19 preparation and prevention.
We have to stop people descending into the treacle of homelessness because it is impossible at times to get back out of it. It rots the soul, the mind, the body
To haul the government to task at the moment takes energy. Energy and concentration that needs to be put to stopping hundreds of thousands becoming homeless, jobless, and lost. “First, see the hole in the dyke!” is my argument. We can prevent this onslaught of lost jobs and lost homes. By making the government put all of its eggs in a Recession Survival programme. This is the time to build alliances between business, government, community and educators to work to stop homelessness occurring on this scale.
It is not enough, as some have suggested, to make sure that local authorities and homeless providers have enough accommodation to help those presenting themselves homeless. That is locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. We have to stop people descending into the treacle of homelessness because it is impossible at times to get back out of it. It rots the soul, the mind, the body.