I seem to pass them in every shop doorway.
The bedding is the give away – rumpled duvets, sleeping bags – layers of stained cardboard to serve as a mattress. Sometimes there are a few possessions – an insulated mug to keep a cup of tea warm against the chill; a thumbed paperback; a bag of pastries from the bakers left by a kindhearted passerby.
The person themselves often goes unseen, nested in their makeshift home. But they’re there, on the edge of society, often on the brink of survival, braving weather, discomfort, abuse and all too often violence. They cope with all this and the reasons that brought them there in the first place, the things that keep them there – mental health issues, substance abuse, job losses, relationship breakdowns.
I won’t get into the politics of it, the government policies that in my view have put more pressure on the poorest in the UK, leading many to lose their homes. I do know that where I live in Bristol, our homeless rate is twice the national average.
Stories for Homes Volume 2 is an anthology trying to help.
As it says on their Amazon page,
Stories for Homes is a collection of witty, poignant, funny and heartbreaking short stories by fifty five authors, both established and emerging, reflecting the connection between the immediacy of housing crisis and the stories people tell about their lives around and within it
I haven’t bought my copy yet, but my dear friend, Maureen Cullen (whose wonderful work I’ve featured on Word Shamble before, here, here and here) has a short story in the collection and her writing is exceptional, so I know the tales will be of the highest quality.
All proceeds will be donated to homeless charity, Shelter.
And for those of you in the UK, there are various events linked to the book between now and the New Year if you’d like to go along.
If you feel able to buy a copy or support the project in any way, that would be wonderful.