Let us imagine a purely hypothetical situation. Because it obviously couldn’t happen could it? I mean, not in a civilised country!
But anyway let’s assume you have a young man. In this case stress the young. Oh we not doubting the man part of it, but if he was any younger you’d probably call him a youth, but that’s verging on being an insult nowadays. Because youths are the ones who hang around on street corners and get into trouble with the police.
Still, accept the ‘man’ part of it but stress to yourself the ‘young.’
Anyway, just to make things difficult for him, let’s assume he’s been in ‘care.’ With several different local authorities; which screws up his hopes of getting much in the way of education.
Obviously I’m gilding the lily here for the sake of hypothetical example, because they say it could never happen.
“And Brutus is an honourable man.”
Then, just to put a tin hat on it, imagine that because of the complexity of the benefits system, he applies for the wrong benefit, doesn’t get his rent paid and ends up homeless.
So the local authority is asked to step up to the mark and do its bit to rescue one of our fellow citizens. They spring into action, and what do they provide him with?
“I would not do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:”
I suppose it’s a consolation to know that we’ve not got to that situation with young women yet.
And as one older chap pointed out to me, it never does any good coming to the attention of the authorities if you’re a young man. Some of his contemporaries were noticed and were given a rifle and are now buried somewhere foreign but exotic. To be fair, there are times when the state does want the services of young men, but they are thankfully few and far between.
But still, when you’ve got your tent, where on earth do you pitch it? Ideally it should be somewhere secluded where the kids won’t find it and torch it, perhaps with you inside. But close enough to the town centre to walk in to try and talk to the various agencies who between them might find you somewhere to live. Ideally a place with a door you can lock behind you, not canvas that might be burning even as you discuss your uncertain future.
At this point I can imagine people are gnashing their teeth and talking about wicked tories.
But actually the local authority who handed out the tent is labour controlled.
Yet, I hear you cry, it’s the wicked tories who robbed the local authority of the money to do anything.
Which is fine, but I’d ask another question. If you’re a councillor for this authority, how do you face yourself in the shaving mirror in the morning? (Or the appropriate female equivalent however you self-identify.) If there’s the money to pay attendance allowance to councillors, if there’s money to pay for ‘hospitality’ then perhaps, just perhaps, it could be used to ensure that young men get better provision than just a tent?
“Will you be patient? will you stay awhile?
I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it:
I fear I wrong the honourable men.”
One thing you notice when you get involved in this area of the charity world. Politicians have a very nuanced attitude to these charities. If they’re in government then the charities working in this area are a reproach. These bodies are proof that all is not well. Charities working with animals or foreigners are fine, but those who’re picking up the pieces after our ‘social care system’ has run amok through people’s lives are a pretty strident rebuke.
If the politicians are in opposition then the charities are handy. You can point to them as proof that your opponents policies are not working. Except that everybody knows that the need was there before and will still be there when governments change. Hence even oppositions tend to be nuanced. You don’t want to say anything that will be quoted against you when you eventually gain office.
And yes, there are honourable exceptions; very honourable exceptions. It’s a pity that they’re the exceptions.
And so the system grinds on, volunteers apply sticking plasters. Volunteers keep people alive, showered and even dressed in clean clothes so that when they have to go to an interview they can feel some self respect.
We’re getting it off pat, this church houses a Foodbank, that church houses a clothes bank, that church has shower facilities and can provide clean underwear.
But I’m afraid that we’re getting to the stage where we really ought to remember the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”