I try to avoid too much of the “news” as I am aware that it is heavily doctored to have us believe certain things and that all news channels are owned by someone with an agenda. However I don’t want to be ignorant and I dip in and out of everyone’s offerings now and again so that I can feel like a functioning member of society.
In the interest of fairness I sometimes even read things written by the daily fail (mail). I am utterly gobsmacked ny the latest thing that I have read by them http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2939817/Norway-planning-JAIL-people-offer-food-money-shelter-homeless-people-new-laws-make-begging-illegal.html
The article tell us that Norway are going to make begging, and helping beggars punishable by a year long jail sentence. So you go to jail for HELPING someone! So these guys in this lovely pub
I know that there are professional beggars, there is a couple that I have seen myself in Southampton that drive into the town centre in a Mercedes and then go and sit on the pavement all day long to earn a living. They have a house and are actually very well off.
Those people really do piss me off.
But the majority of sad, cold, lonely smelly people on the streets are there because they have nowhere else to go. They will queue up at shelters each night hoping to be a lucky one that gets a bed.
I can see the homeless people not minding too much about being put in prison, where they will have a roof over their heads and three meals a day, that is a pretty good upgrade on their current situation (if it is a not scary murder/pedophile/rapist prison, and more like a tax evasion/shoplifter/homeless person prison).
In this country some of the top reasons for becoming homeless are break down of relationships, domestic violence/abuse, unemployment, poverty, lack of affordable housing, housing policies and the closure of long-stay psychiatric hospitals.
Most modern societies are very similar so I expect Norwegian people have very similar reasons for finding themselves with nothing more than a cardboard box to call their own.
I can’t imagine having reached a point where I had exhausted every kind offer of a sofa surf and found myself out in the cold. Or worse, that I had felt the need to leave my house because sleeping outside, facing rape or beatings and having your few meager possessions stolen from you, was preferable to being home. It must be terrible.
So now imagine that you are sat on a sleeping bag that hasn’t been washed in longer than you can remember, your stomach is aching with hunger, you have no money at all. It used to be that kindly people on their way past would drop some coins, or buy an extra sandwich while they got themselves some lunch.
Well not anymore buddy! Because if they do they could get pulled off their way to work route and get put in prison!
I have never been well off, I have lived my whole life in a state of skint. I have always had food to eat and a bed to sleep in. I regularly give to the homeless. It might be a pound here or there, the occasional sandwich, bottle of water and if they have a dog then I will go and buy that dog some food and treats (homeless people with dogs are not welcome in shelters so they really are out there twenty four hours a day.)
I don’t do this because I want some super smug feeling that I am the greatest because I gave someone a cheese and pickle sarnie. I do it because one of my brothers has been through points in his life where he was homeless (once he was too proud to tell me until he had spent a week sleeping rough, in the winter with severe asthma, he had to give in and tell me when he was horribly sick) I like to think that someone out there would have given him a cup of coffee when he was cold and in need of a small token of human kindness.
We are all someone’s relative, we can all be proud.
I really hope that Norway think very carefully before making this a national policy (unless the paper has massively inflated the news and it is not that bad at all, it wouldn’t be the first time now would it?)
And I really hope that nothing like this comes to the UK. Taking away our right to do with our money what we see fit. Further ostracising an already out cast section of society. Criminalising misfortune.
Stuff like this makes me super sad. That is enough “news” for me this week. I am going back to googling cute videos of puppies and babies.