I find the troublesome prospect of the homeless in London a major concern. I understand that there are people on the streets of London, who do need help, the recovering drug addicts, the alcoholics and mentally ill. But what about the few, whom are healthy, have qualifications and are more than willing to work, if only they could get a place to stay, even temporary, until they can get a job and save enough for a place of their own. WHY has Labour Government forsaken these people? As they have forsaken their own troops.
I arrived back in the UK, 3 weeks ago, qualified in IT, Administration and with over 15 years experience in computer industry. Healthy and more than willing to work. After failing to find an old friend to stay with (after he moved address, not leaving a forwarding address), I found myself in a penurious position of being homeless, despite this I journeyed on to London Borough of Hammersmith and to the Housing department, feeling certain that I'd find even temporary accommodation until I found work. I was informed by Hammersmith Housing that, because I have not lived in the Borough for 6 months they could not help me but to give me some leaflets on Hostels. I would only be considered for help after 6 months of living in the Borough. OK, no problem wasn't looking for special treatment; I did live here nearly 20 years ago (in 1998), but had no prove of the fact.
I took myself down to the local jobcentre Plus and signed on Jobseekers, hoping this would only be temporary, until I could find a place & a job. I then ventured to local organisations, like Threshold, The Broadway centre in Sheppard's Bush & even rang the Shelter hotline for advice on my next step. I got an interview for the following day from Threshold, but my immediate problem was somewhere to stay for the night. So I returned to Heathrow airport with my bags in tow & mingled with the passengers, who arrived at terminal 3. There I stayed the night, budgeting the last of my money, for travel and food. I reluctantly put my bags into the luggage department at terminal 3, so I wouldn't have to drag/carry them around all day.
I got my day travel card and headed for my appointment at threshold, in Shepard's Bush. On arriving I filled out their form and met with a pleasant fellow, who informed me that they could not refer me anywhere, because the housing were unwilling/unable to help me & then gave me a list of hostels, homeless shelters and a list of letting agencies that accept dss (housing benefit). So the rest of the day was spent ringing hostels, drop-in-centres and letting agencies, all to no avail. The hostels were either full up, or could not take me, some because I wasn't in their location, i.e. one in Northwest London, said yes they had a place, but when I informed them that I was in the Hammersmith area, they informed me that, they were sorry, but had to be homeless in North London area, before even considering me, they then hung up. So with nightfall drawing in I returned to Heathrow for a second night, where I pretended I just got off a flight. For the next few days, my routine was very similar, trying to find somewhere to live, by ringing hostels letting agencies, journeying to locations all over London, desperately searching for accommodation. I soon found that the last of my money was fast running out so I applied for a crisis loan, which I got the very same day. But my unfortunate luck was on still on the bad side and on the only night I did not return to Heathrow, I had my wallet stolen, with the bulk of the crisis loan, desperate & quite depressed (after reporting the theft to the police), I rang the crisis loan and explained what had happened and they were good enough to offer me another for the next day. So I returned to Heathrow airport and for just over a week at spending my nights at Heathrow Airport Terminal 3, praying for my luck to change, for just one break, so I could at least get even temporary accommodation and get a job so I could kick start my life. I was approached at Heathrow airport by a constable, who informed me that I could no longer stay at the airport & if I returned I would be arrested & could be arrested and could spend a year in Jail. I quickly agreed to leave my temporary home and headed to Hammersmith with my bags in tow. The police constable was very polite and listened to my dilemma, and was generally sorry that he couldn't be of more help. Actually in the 3+ weeks since getting back to London, the police, whom have had their fair share of bad press recently, were actually quite polite and tried to help as much as they were able.
So my first night actually on the street in Hammersmith I slept in a doorway close to Rivercourt Methodist church on King's Street. The next day suffering from chest pains, I went to Charing X hospital, whom kept me in over night, did a load of tests, to make sure it wasn't anything serious. I'm glad to say that it was not, so the following day I was released to continue my search for somewhere to stay. I kept up with ringing Hostels, with similar results as before. On ringing the letting agencies , one didn't actually take DSS, an another the phone wasn't working, the other three (one of which has since said they don't take DSS, but when I first rang said they did), none had a 1 bedroom apartment at present, I ring them every couple of days.
So still no luck, still homeless and approaching my second week at living on the streets, my depression was slowly getting worse. My birthday was fast approaching and I made a mental note, that if I was still homeless on my birthday, then that would be it, the last straw and just end it all. It's kind of scary at how one can so easily walk into oncoming traffic, something that I have considered, the only thing stopping me, is the promise I made to my partner before returning to UK, to never give up! So I relentlessly press forward looking for that break, that small miracle that will take me off the street and give me a chance at getting a job.
I found myself at the Broadway Project off Goldkawk Road, near Shepard's Bush, who like every one else were as helpful as they could be and actually spelt out my predicament which only disheartened me more; They explained that: Because I was not a recovering drub addict, or a recovering alcoholic or suffering from any mental illness, they or any other agency would not be able to refer me to any hostel, nor would a hostel take me in. Because I was healthy and available for work, I was pretty much on my own and Fucked (excuse my French), which sounds to me a little backward don't u think.
He did give me a number of a private landlord, who excepts DSS and no deposit needed, although the accommodation is basic, for the first time I felt that my luck was changing. So I rang the number and was asked to go to West Action to meet with the person at 6 pm. I have to say that I ran there, was so excited, finally I was going to get off the streets and hopefully within the next few weeks have a job. I met my future landlord at the address given arriving just after 6, whom after a quick meeting informed me that he had no place that evening and would I give him a ring at the same time the following evening. I agreed, so still a bit excited that hopefully this would be my last night sleeping rough. I rang him the following night, but he was waiting for a guy to leave one of his addresses, so could I rang back the next night at the same time, so I rang the following night and the next. For over a week now I have been ringing this guy with the same result, ring me tomorrow evening. Been in London over 3 weeks now and I still ring this guy every evening hoping that I will be offered a place to stay, but when I ring the number now it just rings out. So I am still on the streets, still kind of hopeful that it won't be for much longer, but my hope is slowly waning, the depression, fear and hopeless anxiety is slowly getting stronger and my birthday is fast approaching, my partner I haven't heard of in a few days, not even a text. I kinda get the feeling they have moved on and I am now just a distant memory. Myself I came here with so much hope and self confidence, find myself doubtful of everything. Menatal Illness, yes I'm slowly getting there, will Gordon Brown or his Government or council help me then, of that I probably doubt.
I have never felt so alone in my life, once full of hope for my future, I find myself looking forward to my Birthday for all the wrong reasons.
To someone anyone out there Please help me, for it seems that no one can hear my cries for HELP!
AN after thought: This is the 21 century, and you have the likes of famous stars like Bono, looking to stamp out world hunger and poverty, but what about, poor closer to home. We already have the ability, to put most people that are homeless, in hostels and shelters, councils that have estates all over Britain, have flats that re just lying empty, The Mp's in Westminster now looking to ban Soup kitchens on 27 November, so if it becomes law, it will be illegal for soup kitchens to give out free food. Yet on the other hand they are willing to make taxpayers fork out thousand of pounds for heroin for heroin addicts, which at present is sounding very promising, at least ill be out of my head to be depressed and thinking of the dreaded end. What has Happened to Our great Country?
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