So, these homeless people

In 2011 I had a car accident. I was driving dangerously and didn’t have a licence. My friend died. My right arm was severed below the elbow, then amputated. I served two years in prison and developed PTSD, depression and anxiety.

This happened three months into a relationship. It lasted six years, but there was an incident when I was violent. I stopped drinking to make sure it didn’t happen again, but she wasn’t willing to follow my lead. I became homeless in February, after the breakup. I didn’t have a job at the time.

The council was not helpful.

Well, yes, OK. So what system designed to do the best we can for 67 million people is going to be able to deal with this?

46 comments on “So, these homeless people

  1. The piece is titled “Homelessness: ‘People think it can never happen to them, but it can, in the blink of an eye”

    This statement is true to some extent, but I’m tempted to think the story following probably isn’t the one I’d pick to prove the case or evoke sympathy. I mean setting off by driving dangerously, with no license, killing your mate and the courts taking a dim enough view of your actions (I.e. they heard all the bits you’ve probably left out about the car being stolen or your being off your face on drugs at the time) that you actually do time. I’ll be honest, I’m not really feeling that sorry for you yet…

    I was made homeless in 2012. I was living on a narrowboat I owned (I’d bought it with a unsecured loan I’d them paid off, with intent to sell it and use the proceeds to for a deposit buy a house).
    Unfortunately the narrowboat caught fire due to a fault with a battery charger and burned out. I was fortunate enough to walk away unharmed (I was asleep onboard when the fire broke out), but ended up owning a car, the clothes I stood up in, a bank account with about £800 in it, and the burnt out and sunken remains of a narrowboat.
    I spent the next 9 months sofa surfing round the houses of friends from church. People rallied round and gave me old clothes that fitted. I carried on working, after an initial couple of days off I used to get the boat re-floated. I stripped out and rebuilt the boat, then sold it, and with some help from my parents bought the cheapest house I could find and moved in.
    Interestingly, I received exactly zero help from the state apart from the fire service who put the fire out.

    I say this not as a comment on self sufficiency (I had a lot of help from all sorts of people, some of whom I barely knew), but more as a comment on how society should work – it shouldn’t be that the government is having to deal with these things – to a large extent society should be self supporting.

    I could have been a much better sob story for the feature above (I really hadn’t done anything particularly foolish to make myself homeless), but it would have given out all the wrong conclusions about what we should expect from both society and the state… from the example they have chosen, I’m guessing there are rather fewer genuine stories available than they would like you to believe.

  2. theProle: “…I’m tempted to think the story following probably isn’t the one I’d pick to prove the case or evoke sympathy.”

    It’s almost uncanny how they can never, ever pick one that does, isn’t it?

  3. “It’s almost uncanny how they can never, ever pick one that does, isn’t it?”

    One might almost conclude that real hard luck stories don’t exist, and that if you aren’t prone to making bad decisions at every turn then you’ll manage just fine in 21st century Britain.

    But that would be no good as that would mean no more screaming about Evil Tory Scum, so lets ignore that entirely!

  4. Incidentally I do think that some people are genetically prone to make bad decisions – everyone encounters bits of bad luck now and again, when something unexpected goes wrong (thats ignoring that many bits of ‘bad luck’ can be at least partially predicted as possibilities, and steps taken to mitigate the effects should they occur), but some (most?) people get themselves back on track by making sensible decisions, while other compound the initial bad luck by making a series of ill-advised moves thereafter. Resulting in living shitty lives, and blaming it on everyone else and their ‘bad luck’.

  5. Nice to see they managed to get Saint Jo in the article. Pity she’s not still about – she could join #MeToo about an abusive male in her life.

  6. Good post, theProle. Government has muscled it’s way into the charity business, where IT DOES NOT BELONG.

  7. Brilliant by theProle.

    St Jo’s best known tweet is about the things that unite us being far more numerous and strong than what divides us. The same people who retweeted this will argue non-disabled workless people should not be housed outside Greater London because that is where their ‘communities’ are. And they think they are being entirely consistent.

  8. I’m sure that genuine stories of hardship abound.

    However I’m also sure that the Graun and the Mirror are either too lazy or too incompetent to find them, and are too ideologically blinkered to spot the gaping holes in the stories they do get fed.

  9. Well done theProle an uplifitng story, if you had tried to sell that to the Graun, they wouldn’t have believed you.

    We’ve had a strange situation with the council regarding an elderly relative. The council rep. promised all sorts of help for her, but they actually couldn’t deliver on any of it. We were quite prepared to pay for much of this, but we weren’t allowed to. So we have given up on them and gone with a 100% private solution, but it was 3 montsh wasted while we waited for them to make a non-decison.

    (O/T I am watching German 3rd Divison football on telly. I have just seen the worst penalty ever. The goalie feinted as if to dive and the penalty taker chipped the ball down the centre. The goalie simply stood his ground and the ball fell tamely into his arms. The game took ages to restart because everyone was laughing so hard. )

  10. The woman who ‘lost her kids’ is a classic example of someone totally unable to take responsibility for her own life, as if she had no agency.

  11. “One might almost conclude that real hard luck stories don’t exist”. I conclude that they probably do exist but the people who have suffered them are unlikely to turn to the trots at the Guardian.

    theProle: why no insurance on the narrowboat?

  12. Out of those 4000 rough sleepers, many will be living that way because it’s their choice of lifestyle. There are two rough sleepers in my market town, and both refuse all offers of help from social services and charities.

  13. Don’t be a bastard to us. When someone ignores you when you ask for change, it is hurtful.

    The sense of entitlement there is quite extraordinary.

  14. I’m also sure that the Graun and the Mirror couldn’t care less about them.* As with all the Lefturds, the rich is the target. The poor are just disposable weapons to be used against the rich.

    *They aren’t raising money to help them.

    It’s like the recent Starving Polar Bear pictures. The photographers took pictures, instead of FEEDING THE BEAR.

  15. I have to say that I have more sympathy for some poor cold mentally defective rough sleeper than ever I do at the height of the summer, when apart from the streets being somewhat hard, sleeping out isn’t much hardship.

    As for the Guardian case, he should be thankful he didn’t dance at the end of a rope. If he killed some innocent (presumably his mate was equally a scumbag), then perhaps we can hope that he freezes to death in the coming winter, or someone charitable helps the useless parasite into the next world.

  16. @Jim
    “Incidentally I do think that some people are genetically prone to make bad decisions”
    Given a lot of thought to this subject because a lot of the people I’ve been dealing with of late have histories of making bad decisions & continue to make them. I doubt genetics have anything to do with it. Although learned responses do.
    Most good decisions involve some form of delayed gratification. But if you’ve little experience of delaying gratification paying off, delaying gratification isn’t a logical decision. You’ll do what look, to others, like stupid things because the benefits of doing them are immediate & certain.

  17. It’s like the recent Starving Polar Bear pictures. The photographers took pictures, instead of FEEDING THE BEAR.

    I hear polar bears aren’t particularly bothered by a Nikon and Goretex garnish on their food.

    I’m not saying they actually like it, mind, but hungry is, well, hungry.

  18. “Most good decisions involve some form of delayed gratification. But if you’ve little experience of delaying gratification paying off, delaying gratification isn’t a logical decision. You’ll do what look, to others, like stupid things because the benefits of doing them are immediate & certain.”

    I don’t buy the ‘learned response’ thing, because I see this repeated time and time again in people who are old enough to know better. Not only that who have been given good advice repeatedly, ignored it, landing in the shit, been bailed out, then done exactly the same thing again. If learned responses meant anything then they should at least be learning what not to do from their negative experiences, even if they haven’t worked out what they should do.

    I’d suggest that the ability to defer gratification is genetically transmitted rather than learned behaviour. In fact I’m of the opinion most of our character is determined genetically, not by upbringing.

  19. Jim

    ” In fact I’m of the opinion most of our character is determined genetically, not by upbringing.”

    I would suggest that our inclinations, rather than our character, are genetically determined, but that Pavlovian responses to life experiences are equally as important

  20. Genetics, Jim? The ancestors of the people I’m dealing with were living in cities of half a million people when London was little more than a large village. Genetically, Northern Europeans have short attention spans.

  21. Jim

    If such behaviour is wholly genetic, then such people have no moral responsibility or free will. If they are not responsible for their actions, then the state must step in to help them…and before long we have socialism.

    Genetic and environmental explanations of human behaviour work up to a point, but ultimately they are reductionist and dissolve human agency. By reflection and by self-awareness, we can often transcend genetic and environmental influences on our (and all human) behaviour.

  22. Biggie–The bloke was mentally ill. It could have been worse. He might have been supposedly mentally healthy and still been a supporter of the Death Cult that has murdered 150 million human beings.. As far too many are.

    And of course he might also have been supposedly mentally healthy and yet still an active supporter and campaigner for foreign tyranny–as are you.

  23. BiS

    Given a lot of thought to this subject because a lot of the people I’ve been dealing with of late have histories of making bad decisions & continue to make them. I doubt genetics have anything to do with it. Although learned responses do.

    And their inability to reflect on their learned responses (or, for that matter, genetic inclinations), to develop their self-awareness, means they go on making the same poor decisions…

    Recusant

    …our inclinations, rather than our character, are genetically determined, but that Pavlovian responses to life experiences are equally as important

    Intelligence is up to 60% inherited. Character traits are 40%-60% inherited.

    Reflection and self-awareness, however, can transform character. New habits take about 21 days to establish. Aristotle saw this 2500 years ago….

    On a personal level…my mother and her father were alcoholics. Twenty years ago, I was told that my then alcoholism was “genetic” and that total abstinence was absolutely essential. Short story: I reflected very deeply on my use of alcohol, and now drink half a bottle of decent claret six nights a week – and I stick to my limit. Conclusion: genetic inclinations, environmental conditioning and bad habits can be overcome – by reflection and by developing self-awareness.

    Free will is there, if we choose to exercise it…

  24. “One might almost conclude that real hard luck stories don’t exist, and that if you aren’t prone to making bad decisions at every turn then you’ll manage just fine in 21st century Britain.”

    Extremely few.

    Most unemployment is about attitude. I’ve met people who were unemployed and back in work the following day. OK. Not working as a software developer, but pulling pints in a local until the software work came back.

  25. @Mr Ecks 150 million – out by orders of magnitude – estimated 200 million from the invasion of India alone – seen figures bandied about from 400 million to 750 million. Islam – worlds greatest killing machine – makes the nazis look like amateurs though they have the advantage of 1300+ years rather than 12.

  26. Socialism still has the prize Moqifen.

    The RoP mass funfests were committed in ages of almost universal barbarism when nearly everybody was dishing it out to some degree.

    Only the miracle that is Socialismo could manage the return of barbarism and mass murder during 100 years when –by and large things were getting much better all around. That takes truly top grade evil.

    Take a look in Corbog and McNasty’s dead eyes–you’ll see it there Just needs a chance that’s all.

  27. bis,

    “Most good decisions involve some form of delayed gratification. But if you’ve little experience of delaying gratification paying off, delaying gratification isn’t a logical decision. You’ll do what look, to others, like stupid things because the benefits of doing them are immediate & certain.”

    Jim

    “I don’t buy the ‘learned response’ thing, because I see this repeated time and time again in people who are old enough to know better. Not only that who have been given good advice repeatedly, ignored it, landing in the shit, been bailed out, then done exactly the same thing again. If learned responses meant anything then they should at least be learning what not to do from their negative experiences, even if they haven’t worked out what they should do.

    I’d suggest that the ability to defer gratification is genetically transmitted rather than learned behaviour. In fact I’m of the opinion most of our character is determined genetically, not by upbringing.”

    From follow ups to the famous marshmallow experiments:

    This brings us to an interesting question: Did some children naturally have more self-control, and thus were destined for success? Or can you learn to develop this important trait?

    What Determines Your Ability to Delay Gratification?
    Researchers at the University of Rochester decided to replicate the marshmallow experiment, but with an important twist. (You can read the study here.)

    Before offering the child the marshmallow, the researchers split the children into two groups.

    The first group was exposed to a series of unreliable experiences. For example, the researcher gave the child a small box of crayons and promised to bring a bigger one, but never did. Then the researcher gave the child a small sticker and promised to bring a better selection of stickers, but never did.

    Meanwhile, the second group had very reliable experiences. They were promised better crayons and got them. They were told about the better stickers and then they received them.

    You can imagine the impact these experiences had on the marshmallow test. The children in the unreliable group had no reason to trust that the researchers would bring a second marshmallow and thus they didn’t wait very long to eat the first one.

    Meanwhile, the children in the second group were training their brains to see delayed gratification as a positive. Every time the researcher made a promise and then delivered on it, the child’s brain registered two things: 1) waiting for gratification is worth it and 2) I have the capability to wait. As a result, the second group waited an average of four times longer than the first group.

    In other words, the child’s ability to delay gratification and display self-control was not a predetermined trait, but rather was impacted by the experiences and environment that surrounded them. In fact, the effects of the environment were almost instantaneous. Just a few minutes of reliable or unreliable experiences were enough to push the actions of each child in one direction or another.

    I suspect there’s a lot more work to be done here but it doesn’t look like a simple problem.

  28. Dearieme: why no insurance on the narrowboat?

    Because it wasn’t cost effective. I had 3rd party cover (cheap as chips), and had it been available would have had TTFT type catastrophic cover, but such cover doesn’t exist. Fully comp cover was available, and the annual cost while significant wasn’t prohibitively expensive. The problem was that to hold full comp cover, the boat needed a survey doing either annually or every 2 years (I forget which now, some 10 years after I bought it), at some cost (it had to come out of the water for it). Said survey would then have found a selection of issues to do with it’s watertightness I knew about and wasn’t really bothered about which would have cost more than I could sensibly afford to fix, without attention to which no insurance would have been forthcoming.
    Ultimately, I did the sums for all the costs of insurance, worked out that the total bills for repairs, insurance and inspections over the next few years would mean by year eight I had spent so much on insurance I could have bought another narrowboat.
    Figuring that catastrophic loss shouldn’t turn up anything like that frequently, I decided the insurance option just wasn’t financially viable.

    I the final event, I think I worked out (including the cost of rebuilding) I’d only actually lost something like £5k over the four years I’d lived on it. If I then added on the cost of its moorings and boat license, the whole experience had cost me about £2300pa which isn’t actually a great deal of money for somewhere to live.

  29. Addendum to the above – I’d do it all again tomorrow if you took me back to being where I was when I started – yes there are things I would do differently (for starters I would have borrowed more and bought a different boat knowing what I now know about canal boats – borrowing half as much again would have bought a boat 10 times more suitable), but in general I’d stand by most of the major decisions I made then (including the decision not to bother with full insurance).

  30. Start work at 21. Tuck away £25 per week = £100 per month = £1200 per year = £12,000 after 10 years = six months with no recourse to public funds.

    Simples!

  31. And looking through the other stores, what’s true common factor?

    “I told my family about my situation, but I don’t get along very well with my stepfather”

    “My parents are well off; I could have anything I wanted when I lived there, but I wasn’t safe, so I went to stay with my ex-girlfriend’s mum’s friend. One night she got a bit drunk and told me to get out. I didn’t want to ask my mates to stay at theirs – I was scared social services would send me back to my parents – so I slept in the field behind the local leisure centre”

    “My ex-partner was violent and went to prison.”

    “I started smoking marijuana and my life spiralled. The drugs and my outbursts were the last straw for my mum; she kicked me out.”

    “I’m going away with my mum for Christmas. I don’t know where: she’s planning it. When she was trying to help me, I refused the help because I was in a state, but now we’ve had counselling and we’ve got a better relationship. This Christmas is going to be great .”

    Common factor in all of these? Family breakdown of some sort of other.
    The only one I find myself with much sympathy for is the bloke who’s mate died to save him on the M2. I can imagine how that would sear into your life the the most awful way – but even then smoking weed and falling out with mum is never going to help.

    The left hate marriage and families. Imagine if families and friends actually supported one another – what would the state have left to do?

  32. Not in the narrowboat world – they wouldn’t even issue a policy without the relevant certificate from a surveyor.

  33. The fundamental rule of personal insurance: never insure a risk that you can afford to bear yourself. Insurance companies are not charitable organisations.

  34. “The fundamental rule of personal insurance: never insure a risk that you can afford to bear yourself.”

    Unless you are unlucky. I save money on insurance by having high deductibles.

    I know people who need all the insurance they can get, cause stuff happens to them. For no apparent reason.

    I think I am responsible for my good luck, but who knows? Like the golfer said, “The more I practice, the luckier I get.”

  35. Most of these sob stories boil down to “I was an utterly feral little shite and my fecklessness got me kicked in the bollocks by life, repeatedly.” Boo fucking hoo.

  36. @ Chris Miller
    Unless it is motor insurance because the bill for repairs will always come in above your deductibles even if it is a scratch by a yob using a key that you could have fixed yourself with a £10 spray-can of paint

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