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?

Salvation Army – The Growing Divide

The attached report by the Salvation Army (NEW ZEALAND, FIJI

& TONGA TERRITORY) makes for interesting reading, published in February 2012

The report focuses on five social policy areas, children’s wellbeing, crime and punishment, work and income, social hazards and housing.

Alan Johnson, Principal author, sums up the essence of the report:

“This is the Salvation Army’s fifth State of the Nation report. The intention of this report and its predecessors is to provide a snapshot of social progress. In doing so, we hope New Zealanders will value more the pieces making up the snapshot. For example, we have placed New Zealand’s prisons in the picture because it is important that as citizens we get to consider and debate the wisdom of locking more and more people up.” 

Download the report here – The Growing Divide 

 

You can make a difference

Over the last wee while I’ve been paying attention to comments and conversations about the state of society, how people are trapped in poverty, living on the street, undergoing enormous stress in their lives through illness, child abuse, debilitating disease and many other ‘issues’. What has been amazing, is that in the main the comment has been that “government” needs to do more to help the people affected. 

Sure, Governments the world over could likely do more, but surely we as citizens of the world have to take responsibility, and action to alleviate the pain and suffering too? 

If we solely sit back and wait for Government intervention, and new programmes to help then we’re looking at  a situation where taxes will have to be either increased or redirected to cover new or improved services. 

We can’t expect Governments to do everything, all though we would very much like that to happen – we need to make some effort ourselves. 

Some recent conversations have been between people who haven’t voted in their local elections, they haven’t demonstrated their constitutional right – having instead decided that it wasn’t worth it, that no matter their vote there would be no change in the areas they want to see change in. 

Sometimes, perhaps – but unless we make an effort, unless we participate there will be no change. 

We can all make a difference, whether we’re wanting to make financial contributions, offer our services, lend a helping hand to someone in need – the ways in which we can all help are many and varied. 

As the late Rev. Martin Luther King said in his I Have A Dream speech – ‘… Now is the time …’ , and today, as we start out in new year it IS the time for us all to be doing to make a difference. 

Make 2012 the year you say “I will make a difference, I will play my part”.