Southall Homeless: 3
October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
I wanted to spend a night with the homeless, as I predicted that the cold night would be the most difficult time to get through, and a time when everyone would pull together to help each other through.
We get to the bridge at 10pm, but this is a little too late. Most of the men are already asleep, helped on their way by alcohol or drugs. I am advised not to sit on the floor as it is dark and we can’t see if there are needles. I spend most of the evening chatting to the men; some I have met before and they recognise me. Most warm up to me fairly quickly, but one particularly drunk man shouts in a dizzy frenzy ‘meri photo na kich!’ every time my flash goes off. This reccurring episode is often coupled with a stumble of some kind or a cheeky grin and a ‘cheers!’. This man is one of the few homeless men who manages somehow to get benefits. He explains to me that the money is gone within an hour, because he has a family of twenty to feed. By this of course, he means his friends who also sleep under the bridge. The money he gets is easily enough for him to pay rent for himself every week. I often wonder why the rest of our community don’t feel the same way about our brothers and uncles under the bridge.
At around 4am a prostitute drags one of the men out of his sleeping quarters, presumably to her house, exclaiming incredulously to me before she leaves; ‘Don’t the smell get to ya?’