This 30th year is turning out to be a rock ’n’ roll year. Back when we started The Big Issue life moved slower. Political life by comparison to today was old-fashioned and nearly quaint. I was an almost fashionable 45-year-old with DMs and rather ragged, washed-out denim. And some silly little tops, slogan free. It was difficult to see our way forward because this was all new stuff; this intervening in street homelessness.
Phil [Ryan, pictured above] and I, the first person I took on, were spending more time in the West End, for that is where the thousands of homeless people were domiciled on the streets.
Domiciled was obviously a silly word to use. As domicile suggests a place to live. The tired, bleary-eyed world of rough sleeping was sucking the life out of very young people. Making them desperate to get their hands on the means for food.And often being converted to stimulants of the most appealing but appalling kind.
We have to fight against mass homelessness hitting us when the government decides all this emergency spending is too much to pass on to another generation
Most of the people we met had the accents of Scotland and the North. The displaced of the United Kingdom were bedding down and begging among some signs of plenty. But it was not a good world.
I do inwardly wish that we were in simpler times. Now of course we are being kicked about by Covid-created poverty. Now we have mass evictions to fight against. We have to fight against mass homelessness hitting us when the government decides all this emergency spending is too much to pass on to another generation.
Of course you can inform government that paying people’s rent or mortgage, giving them social security until they get out of the emergency, is cheaper than letting people slip into the treacle of homelessness: the mind-damaging effects can take generations to work out.