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BS: Poverty Today

Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 12:22 PM
Raggytash 23 Jan 17 - 12:33 PM
keberoxu 23 Jan 17 - 12:39 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 12:41 PM
Rapparee 23 Jan 17 - 12:44 PM
Rapparee 23 Jan 17 - 12:53 PM
DMcG 23 Jan 17 - 01:08 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 01:15 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 01:24 PM
DMcG 23 Jan 17 - 01:31 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Jan 17 - 01:47 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 01:51 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 01:58 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Jan 17 - 02:07 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Jan 17 - 02:08 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 02:09 PM
Senoufou 23 Jan 17 - 02:13 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Jan 17 - 04:09 PM
Rapparee 24 Jan 17 - 09:27 AM
Senoufou 24 Jan 17 - 10:06 AM
Donuel 24 Jan 17 - 11:48 AM
Thompson 25 Jan 17 - 04:21 AM
Rob Naylor 25 Jan 17 - 04:23 AM
Rob Naylor 25 Jan 17 - 04:33 AM
Senoufou 25 Jan 17 - 09:07 AM
Senoufou 25 Jan 17 - 09:13 AM
Rapparee 25 Jan 17 - 09:20 AM
keberoxu 25 Jan 17 - 10:46 AM
Thompson 25 Jan 17 - 02:42 PM
Senoufou 25 Jan 17 - 04:19 PM
Thompson 26 Jan 17 - 05:46 AM
Senoufou 26 Jan 17 - 06:19 AM

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Subject: BS: Homelessness Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:22 PM

I've been avoiding starting a thread about this, but what we saw in Norwich on Saturday is haunting me and I wanted some viewpoints from Mudcat.
It was minus 7 degrees on Friday night, and still only minus 4 on Saturday morning. We were frozen when we arrived in the city by car, but we needed a bit of a walk, so wandered around looking in shops. The day rapidly got very depressing. We passed so many beggars sitting on the icy pavement, with a tiny pile of coins in a hat or a tin. They looked half dead. Outside BHS (closed now,thanks to Mr Greedy Green) was a large pile of sleeping bags and blankets under the portico, where the shapes of various bodies could be discerned, presumably asleep.
The worst was a poor, poor, skinny old lady crouched with her knees up to her chin against a corner of a building. She looked asleep (or unconscious) and her 'clothes' were the worst rags I have ever seen. We were in tears. My husband suggested the large thick tartan car blanket we keep in the boot, so we hurried back to the multi-storey to fetch it, and on the way got a hot cup of coffee and some sandwiches from a nearby shop. We wrapped her up, apologising for waking her, and put the coffee and sarnies into her hands. But it was her eyes which finished me off. Just utter despair and hopelessness. My husband tucked a tenner under her sleeve, and we left, not knowing what else we could do.
I can't get this poor creature out of my mind. I even dreamed about her! How on earth is it that folk like this suffer with apparently no help, in this day and age? I contribute in a small way to the Salvation Army and the St Martin's Homeless Project in Norwich, but we haven't a lot of spare cash, as we help our African family in Ivory Coast. Why doesn't the State do anything? Why aren't there systems in place for these people?
What finally pierced my heart was the sheer number of people strolling past totally ignoring her or just staring and commenting, apparently unmoved.
What can be done?


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Raggytash
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:33 PM

There were some systems in place Senofou to help such people but their budgets have been cut and cut and then cut again.

From personal experience I do realise that a FEW people choose to exist like this (you cannot call it living).

Much as I admire your generousity towards this lady as you yourself realise it is so little.

As a society we need to browbeat our government, of whichever party, to act on behalf of these unfortunate people.

Contact your council, your MP, your MEP, encourage others to do the same. Perhaps if ENOUGH people do this they may act...........

...........but somehow I doubt it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: keberoxu
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:39 PM

the one that haunts me, as a US native, is how many of the military veterans here are homeless. What that says is shameful.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:41 PM

I feel that possibly the old lady might have had mental health issues, or addiction problems or some such. If so, she should have been sectioned and admitted to a Unit for assessment and treatment. I admire the Salvation Army, and they do much for the homeless, but they have limited resources.

I suppose to those in power, such folk aren't of any use or importance.
It's only charities which try to address their needs.

It could also be that she wouldn't have agreed to be admitted somewhere and preferred her freedom. I honestly believe that she will die in the cold out in the streets before too long. All we could do afterwards was to pray, my husband to Allah and me to Jesus, in the hope that some compassion will be forthcoming. Frankly, I can't understand why even God appears to do nothing, and I told Him so!


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:44 PM

Compassion. Empathy.

Too many have grown up in what would be affluence when compared to those on the streets. And, of course, there is the mindset that these people are mentally disturbed, drug addicts, drunks.

Naturally, there are those who believe (really!) that God only rewards the good and those who give to stump-jumping preacher of their choice,or better, all of them. It's called "The Law of Tenfold Return" and is supposed to be based in the Bible. Thus, the people you saw were sinners and since they were where they were they had not repented. (The statements in the New Testament to the contrary -- e.g., Luke 9:48 or Matthew 25:40 or any number of other places.)

I think people are embarrassed by the presence of those on the sidewalks. They are a graphic reminder of what can happen and for some, whete they or their forebears have been.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 12:53 PM

The number of homeless veterans in the US has, according to the VA, been reduced by half. There are programs through the VA, State veterans' agencies, local agencies, and various organizations for homeless veterans. These programs can treat health issues, provide housing, job training, and some even pay the guy for receiving therapy or help.

Some chose to live that way through choice: they feel that they have more control over their safety (PTSD and other things can cause this).

There is also the problem of "wannabees" who use the label of veteran to elicit more sympathy. When a real homeless veteran finds one of these what happens isn't pretty.

Homelessness and poverty on the streets seems to have increased dramatically since about 1980. Yes, society should care for everyone, but not everyone wants that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:08 PM

Things are worse than that.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:15 PM

When I worked with prisoners (who nearly all had drug problems), many told me they'd experienced sleeping rough and begging/stealing to keep their habit going and somehow survive. I try not to judge. Suffering is suffering, no matter what path a person has trodden to arrive at this point. I just can't for the life of me see a solution. I imagine there are day-centres and homeless hostels, but I also heard from 'my' prisoners that life on the streets is very dangerous and violent, and of course the hostels have rules about no drugs or alcohol on the premises.

We have the Charity 'Help For Heroes' here in UK, which looks after veterans who are either homeless or in financial difficulty. Once they leave the Forces, no-one officially seems to watch over them.

My husband is always shocked to see that such poverty exists in the 'First World'. We've both seen terrible things in W Africa, but this is just as bad.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:24 PM

DMcG, isn't that totally daft? Fining homeless beggars £100 !!!! Yeah, right. Hopefully they put them in prison for a while and at least they get a bite to eat and some heating.
But that sounds like Ebenezer Scrooge, "Are there no Prisons? Are there no Workhouses?"


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:31 PM

It isn't daft but it is totally despicable. Thw point is not to fine them really, it is to make them go somewhere else so they are somebody else's problem.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:47 PM

We can only do our best, Eliza, and it sounds like you did yours. I have done similar in the past and was amazed that the happiest reaction I got was from a young man who I gave a pair of gloves to! It is harsh but, sadly, we can do no more than help where we can and badger the powers that be to give the homeless a better deal. It would drive you mad if you dwelt on it to long.

I can't find the actual story but here is the description of a philosophical piece by Ursula Le Guin. The ones who walk away from omelas.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:51 PM

That's why tramps were moved along in Victorian times from one Workhouse to another.
I wonder how other countries deal with this, on the Continent or Scandinavia for example.
My husband has slept on sheets of cardboard without food for days, under market tables during the night. That's why he feels such compassion for all beggars and the hungry homeless. But he never expected to find it here in UK. (And at least in Africa the cold isn't a problem!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 01:58 PM

You're right Dave, it IS driving me mad. That Omelas story sounds very powerful. As the critique says, it can be seen as an allegory for Capitalism and its resulting victims.

We as a couple honestly can't do all that much as our funds are a bit limited.
And any small gesture isn't going to address the main problems.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 02:07 PM

No, a small gesture will not address the main problem but it could make someones day and may make a huge difference on a personal level. Don't stop doing it because you can't help everyone. Just help those you can and lead others to do the same by example.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 02:08 PM

BTW - I know you cannot give much financially but what about giving up some time to help in a shelter or hostel? With your past experience I am sure you would soon make a massive difference to many.

D.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 02:09 PM

I agree Dave. We just wanted her to know we cared. I took her hand and it was icy cold. Poor lady.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 02:13 PM

The church in our village is involved with the Food Bank at the nearest town. I do help with collection and transport of donated food.
Even having to have blinking Food Banks is a national disgrace. I don't think the very well-off have much idea how the 'other half' have to live. It's dire.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Jan 17 - 04:09 PM

One of the best songs I know about homelessness by one of my favourite artists, Anthony John Clarke - The only life Gloria knows

YouTube I'm afraid so if you don't do YouTube, sorry :-(

DtG


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Jan 17 - 09:27 AM

And clothing? Are there places in the UK which supply used, but clean and serviceable, clothing for those who need it?

I suspect that the need overwhelms the supply, as here in the US.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 24 Jan 17 - 10:06 AM

We have charity shops here Rap, where you donate clothes and they sell them cheaply to people who can't afford new ones. But the best way I find is to donate clothing directly to the Night Shelters and the Salvation Army etc. Also blankets, warm coats and so on. Most homeless people don't have any money to buy charity clothes with.

I just find it appalling that all this happens at all. People having to rely on hand-outs and charities to keep themselves alive.

I did like that song, Dave, but it was very sad wasn't it? Haunting.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Donuel
Date: 24 Jan 17 - 11:48 AM

Policy and law is always at the heart of the problem.

Reagan became President in 1981 and promptly shut down the state hospital system across the country that were barely surviving with federal help. If you could walk you were put on the street. The rest were left to relatives to find private care. For those still remaining unclaimed and unwanted palliative care only hastened their demise.

Most of the walking patients were mental patients.

You won't remember but WW I veterans suffered the same homelessness as veterans of Korea and Vietnam. WWII veterans were lucky to have the GI bill.

It is always the policy and law made by people we elect. Feeling guilty about this is well deserved. It can be changed but that take real time and work. freedom from want would require sacrifice of projects lie 1 billion dollar apiece war planes and such.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Thompson
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 04:21 AM

Here in Ireland, the most basic thing that's changed is housing. Dublin Corporation (which bafflingly renamed itself Dublin City Council out of the blue a few years ago) used to build houses and flats to the very highest standard of workmanship and materials.
In the Thatcher era, it became fashionable to sell these off, and so the Corpo did; I knew people who bought the council house they were renting for €15k and immediately sold it for €20k.
The effect was twofold: it enormously fuelled a house price bubble, and it deprived the poor of secure places to live where the rent was guaranteed not to rise past what they could pay. This again had a knock-on effect: people couldn't afford to study and get good qualifications; people emigrated; the poorest became desperate as they fell down through the holes in the safety net.
I hardly ever go into the city now; when I do, I'm lacerated by the sight of people in sleeping bags or wrapped in dirty blankets staring at the ground with a begging cup (nowadays this is a McDonald's paper cup) beside them.
I try to spend €5 a week buying one of these people a small meal - soup and a sandwich - and having a chat.
According to the New Yorker, the super-rich are preparing for revolution. Why they don't instead lean on their governments to finance housing and education…?


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 04:23 AM

Senoufou: I wonder how other countries deal with this, on the Continent or Scandinavia for example.

From personal experience I can say that homeless people living on the streets are quite a visible presence in Norway at least. This is surprising considering that Norway is, per capita, one of the richest nations on earth.

Statistically about 1.3% of the Norwegian population are defined as homeless, compared with about 1.7% of the UK population. To be honest, I was surprised that it's so close considering Norway's per capita income, its social policies and its sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas. Possibly indicating a problem somewhat more complex than just the ability or will to throw funds at it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 04:33 AM

Also, there have been attempts at national and regional levels in Norway to ban beggars from the streets, or move them on. this article's a bit old now, but there are still local communes which actively harass beggars/ rough sleepers:

Homelessness In Norway

Scandinavia is often highlighted as an area of the world that has everything sussed, but as someone who's spent 5 years living in Norway, 13 years working for a Norwegian employer, travelled extensively around Sweden, Finland and Denmark and who speaks the language, it has similar problems to other places, which are only somewhat alleviated by the type of social structures prevalent there.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 09:07 AM

Oh wow Rob, I'm astonished that even Norway and other Scandinavian countries haven't managed to find a solution to homelessness! That article was most interesting. I've always had Norway down as a very enlightened, compassionate country. It just goes to show that the problem isn't just about money, but it's a social problem and very complex. Just imagine the bitter cold up there in winter!
I don't think throwing money at the situation is necessarily the answer. Many of these folk have mental health issues and addictions, and perhaps couldn't manage a tenancy or to keep house in the usual way due to their inadequacy.
Many are 'economic migrants' who come to UK to beg. There's a Lithuanian chap who sculptures a dog out of some sand in Norwich's main pedestrian street and has a hat on the ground for 'contributions'. We've also seen a family of (I gather) Romanians in a city park, camping out and begging. All these people grieve me in their poverty.
Thompson, I'm glad I'm not the only one 'lacerated' by the sight of the suffering. And how very very kind of you to buy a hot drink and a sandwich every week for someone in need. We can only do our best as individuals as Dave the Gnome says.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 09:13 AM

Meant to add 'tusen takk' to Rob for his clicky thingy. (My old dad spent a while in Norway when young, and spoke a few words which he taught me)


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Rapparee
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 09:20 AM

No complex problem has a simple answer anymore than a ball of string composed of many bits and pieces has a single beginning and end. Throwing the blame doesn't solve the problem.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 10:46 AM

In the back of my mind I recalled something about Austria and homelessness, so I did a quick search.
It seems that in Austria, the homeless are largely off of the streets; there are more options available to them, than simply to beg in public.
That said, there are still homeless in Vienna:

Tours of Vienna employ Homeless guides


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Thompson
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 02:42 PM

Senoufou, it's not kind of me at all, it's personal insurance; which of us knows whether we'll be homeless any day through some economic misjudgment or ill-luck. It's good policy to try to make the occasional small gesture of humanity; look at it as an investment in your own future!


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 25 Jan 17 - 04:19 PM

Well it is kind of you nonetheless. I've heard of evil people spitting on these poor souls and kicking them as they sit there. The man who makes a dog out of sand had his sculpture trodden on and ruined by some louts a while back. It's so sad.
As I get older I find I feel suffering more and more, and I have to admit I try to help in order to salve my conscience a bit. My husband's the same; we both just can't bear it, and it cuts us up to see these things.
I agree that almost anyone can end up in this situation through bad luck, ill health, mental health problems and so on. I never ever judge; it could indeed be me at a later date, who knows?


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Thompson
Date: 26 Jan 17 - 05:46 AM

In Venice, according to The Times tourists watched an immigrant drown, laughing, calling out racist comments and filming him on their phones.


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Subject: RE: BS: Poverty Today
From: Senoufou
Date: 26 Jan 17 - 06:19 AM

How dreadful Thompson. I've just looked this up, and the poor man was a Gambian (a country I've visited many times) He refused to avail himself of the lifebelts thrown to him, and appeared to want to die. He was only 22. However can people laugh and shout insults at a drowning man? And what degree of despair was he suffering, to want to end his life like this?
I'm old now, and I often feel I shall be glad to leave this earth when the time comes.


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