I’ve not written anything for a while, mainly because of my move to Christchurch changing my focus on various things; particularly getting back into my old passion – photography, check my Instagram.
Anyway, over recent weeks I’ve noticed more beat-ups against homeless and people begging on the streets; sure, there’s been beat-ups before, but there’s a new wave of this happening throughout the country and, quite frankly I’ve had enough of it.
As some of you will know I have always been supportive of people who don’t have what others have, those who struggle to find housing and those who struggle to make ends meet. And, before you say “but it’s their choosing” – stop!
Who chooses to be homeless? Sure, there may be a handful of people who prefer not to have a fixed abode, but they are few and far between.
And, to those who say beggars are only doing it to finance their drugs and alcohol – I call bullshit on this; yes, there are some that do that, but again they are few and far between.
Since being in Christchurch, just like when I was in Auckland, I have gotten to know some of the local street people and, what a great bunch they are; actually, I’ve reconnected with a couple of bods I knew from Auckland.
Now, back to the beat-ups, Auckland retailers are tired of them on the street, sure some can be a right royal pain in the butt, but why aren’t retailers just going up to them and asking them nicely to move on rather than being heavy handed and calling security patrols or police? A little polite dialogue can work wonders and earns respect for all concerned.
Now I’ve also read recently about community space design that seem to be done in a way to deter people from loitering, street furniture made in such a way that people can’t lay down; spikes on edges of buildings, sprinklers in doorways; aren’t we a great lot that we would sooner do things to deter than to face people and talk about any issues.
In Christchurch recently while talking with a couple of the street people, we were approached by the boys in blue and asked to move on; actually, more precisely they were asked to move on. They were sitting on seats installed for public use; so in my mind had every right to be there.
These cops told the guys to move or they would be moved on for trespassing. Me being me, I couldn’t bite my tongue and asked if this applied to me as well; no they said, only the street people, well, that made my blood boil. That, as I pointed out to the constabulary was profiling and discrimination, I was asked to shut up, and to mind my own business. Um, it is/was my business.
Eventually the cops relented and moved on. We won.
Just the other week, again I was talking with a chap on the street I have gotten to know, when someone from a security firm came along and told him he had to sit at least one metre from any shop frontage. When I asked if this was council policy or a council bylaw, I was immediately asked for my name, address, and date of birth, yea right, I ain’t giving this to anyone other than the police. This person tried to tell me she had every right to ask and that I was in breach of some law for not providing it. Um, sorry, you’re wrong I said. She then demanded to see some form of proof of identity, I told her no way, that she had no legal right to request that.
She got all huffy and was about to call the police for assistance, I even offered to make the call myself, lucky for her someone else from the company came along and defused the situation.
And, now, just over this last weekend I read a thread on Facebook, where someone was asking what help she could offer to a newly found young woman sleeping rough. While most people offered sound advice, one person chimed in saying that asking for help for a woman was sexist, that homeless men are more at risk on the street than a single woman. Well, again I had to call bullshit on this.
I have seen and spoken with women sleeping rough who have been exploited, used as sexual pawns.
We all need to understand our homeless, we need to get to know them and offer them any help we can. This help could be as simple as getting to know them, offering them help when they need it, steering them to the right agencies. Remember most people are only a few pay cheques away from being in the same boat.
What will you do to help those living rough?