Homeless/Begging Beat-Up

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?

Begging Ban

I was shocked to see on Stuff.co.nz that a building in Christchurch has now put up No Begging signage in a “effort” to move beggars on. The reasoning appears to be that there are a number of “professional” beggars, people who move into the area to solicit money when they don’t really need to be doing it.

What’s happening in our society when we label people without knowing the full story, some of the comments I have read online in regard to this particular article has shocked me; and then when I shared it on Facebook one person suggested that all beggars be exterminated, that they were rejects that society didn’t need. Someone also commented that beggars, homeless should be put into “secure” housing, when asked what was meant by this, the response was – jail, was this best option. Let’s hope these views aren’t shared by others.

OK, yes there are some people begging that can be a tad annoying, but it’s important that not all are tarred with the same brush; every one of them has a story, a reason for being on the street doing what they are doing. We should instead of banishing homeless and beggars, that we should be learning what has put them in the situation they are in and looking for ways to offer them the help they need to get on their feet.

There’s many organisations working to help homeless people throughout the country, and now we the Government ready with $100M to fight homelessness. All we need now is for the rest of us to understand why people are on the streets and offer support where we can.

Do beggars annoy you, do you want to see them banned from the streets?

Old Pugilist beat up

It’s not often I rant about an issue per se here, but after reading what Bob Jones had to say in the media yesterday (Tuesday 17 Jan 2017) I just can’t hold my tongue, or should that be my fingers.

Bob Jones, said in a report to media, as reported in the NZHerald that homeless people were essentially scum and worthless lazy buggers, sadly he doesn’t understand the reality and perhaps before he rants he should take timeout and sat and talked with some of the people sitting on streets asking for money.

I’ve spent many an hour speaking with homeless and beggars, not all homeless are beggars and not all beggars are homeless, they each have their own reason (story) for why they are where they are.

People like Bob Jones, and others who only want to moan, rant and say that people sitting on streets asking for money are scum and, more recently that begging should be banned, need to get their arses off their leather seats, and walk a mile (ok, a few metres) in the shoes of some people living off the street.

Unless we understand the whys of why people are living on and “off” the street then we can truly know what’s happening and how we can help.

We can all help, even if it is simply saying hello – don’t judge lest thee be judged.

There are people living on the streets who want to work, but because they don’t have a fixed address they can’t get jobs, because they haven’t been able to get a job for a few years they can’t get a job … drugs and alcohol are not the only reason, race is certainly an issue, but not the issue they are where they are at, the reason they are where they are at where they are is because of their race .. sadly we are still a racist country.

Yes, I’m angry, I’m angry because people like Bob Jones get to vent about people less fortunate but less fortunate people don’t have a voice, we need to be their voice, we need to sit and listen to them, to hear their stories and help where we can, they’ve been beaten down enough..

We need, nay, we must help lift those in need, we need to put our hands out, open our hearts do what we can to help.

 

 

 

Looks Like a Charity Beat Up

A New Plymouth (New Zealand) charity – Roderique Hope Trust which provides emergency housing has recently leased a property to house people in urgent need of housing. But, this doesn’t seem to have gone down too well with others who have properties on the street.

One person, who’s daughter has a property on the street, has apparently threatened to sue if the value of her property decreases because of the Trust providing accommodation.

How can this be ok to even think about? As one person who commented on the item on Stuff.co.nz has said, “Do the residents of the street vet ALL people buying or renting in “their” street?  I bet they don’t!   How do they know that “that sort of person” became homeless due to accident, illness, redundancy or other reasons, and are perfectly respectable people?   This looks like a severe case of Nimby-ism”. This commenter is right in his/her thinking.

All too often we see community organisations taking action to help others in the community only to face a backlash, this time it seems as though the threat of legal action is only one part of the potential backlash, but it also seems that this could be a media beat up.

It would appear that Roderique Hope Trust have tried to keep the local residents informed, the fact that a meeting was planned for a long weekend is perhaps not a good thing, although it wasn’t organised by the Trust; but whoever organised it should have taken into account that some “players” wouldn’t be available.

We need organisations like Roderique Hope Trust helping in the emergency housing area, but we run the risk of others taking a step back if threats such as the one in this article are made to other providers.

Let’s hope there’s a good outcome to this and that the Trust moves ahead with their plan, it would seem that the owner of the property has no issues, only a handful of local residents who seem to feel they have been left out of discussions.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Sleepout wasn’t a photo op

I’m surprised, nah, I’m flabbergasted by the comment in a vlog by Marcus Lush about the recent Lifewise Big Sleepout in that it’s merely a photo opportunity. Really, come on Marcus, it’s a lot more than that.

Many people, myself included have participated to help raise awareness of the plight of the homeless in our community.

If I wanted a photo opportunity I could have run naked down Queen St or, become a radio personality.

The reason I and many other have participated in the Big Sleepout is to help raise awareness and, yes money to help those in need.

I could simply write a cheque send it off and hope that something would be done, but by participating I, and likely everyone else have helped raise discussion about the what can be done to help those in need. Those who have no choice but to sleep rough; participants gave up their warm, cosy beds, left their partner to shiver while they shivered in the cold to help others.

It’s not done to raise profiles of the individual participants – unlike perhaps your vlog – was that done as a grandstanding action or did you mean to put it out their to raise discussion, thus your own profile?

One must wonder.

 

I dont’ want beggars – bullshit

Ok, maybe the header got you – fingers crossed it has, because this is a subject I’m furious about.

Recently Wellington City Council said it didn’t want beggars on its doorstep and instead would be installing donation boxes, Palmerston North council have also been discussing it, now the Auckland Council are looking at going down the same path.

One word that sums this up is bullshit.

Bullshit – why? Simple, there’s three professions that have been around since creation – design, prostitution and begging – yes, begging is a profession look at any charity putting their hand out – they’re doing nothing more than begging, they’re asking for help. No different really to the people we see on the street asking for a handout.

Sure, some will say church donation etc are different to begging, but are they really? I guess the only difference is that they’re not on the street asking – oops, but they are.

Next, no on should be in the position to ask for help, there’s Government help – um, lets go back to the heading Bullshit, or for those overly sensitive – bovine excrement.

Not everyone can get the help they need through Government help (read WINZ), not everyone who needs help has the required identification, address etc needed – so what are these people meant to do. Shop lift to live?

Sure, do away with begging, but will the Auckland and other councils foot the insurance bills of retailers who are left out of pocket? My guess is that, no, they want.

Instead of banning begging, all councils should be talking with all agencies in the area to see what can be done to help alleviate the need to beg. Is it more assistance to agencies helping those in need, is it more lobbying of central Government or is it working with local business to see if the local busisness community can help?

Oh, and why didn’t I hear about this stupid idea of the Auckland Council until today – mmm learn to communicate. There’s been nothing in your local news info, nor have I seen/heard anything on local TV/Radio – reach the people where they are.