Yesterday I went to Morrissons to do a bit of shopping - just a little bit - I spent £120.
Coming outside I found a man begging. He was obviously homeless and rough-sleeping. I found two one pound coins in my pocket and gave them to him. He thanked me with a smile and a with genuine gratitude.
Last year, speaking with teenagers in Oakgrove School I said I had never met a homeless person who was not genuine and polite. This fifteen year old replied saying: When you are homeless you do not have to hide your feelings or pretend to be something you are not, your real thoughts just come out. THAT FROM A FIFTEEN YEAR OLD.
Was this man a drug addict ? Most certainly he was. He looked really ill. His face was so haggard I could not attempt to guess how old he was. This guy is a victim, a victim who nobody loves and nobody cares about. Metaphorically he does not have a life ahead of him. Physically and medically I suspect his life expectancy is short.
Pre lock down I was working with who I call my Pavement Buddies, working with a lunch of love every Saturday. That is all gone. It is said that our pavement buddies are safely being cared for in hotel accommodation. RUBBISH ! Some have accommodation but many, like my friend from yesterday do not.
Several times since lock down I have e-mailed the two organisations running the hotel accommodation asking: How is Richard ? How is Barry ? Neither organisation answered any of my e-mails ! Please do not tell me they care.
What chance of getting help does my new friend and so many others like him have of finding help ? You can measure that in a minus number !
Today I will spend £20 on printing ink to print off the draft of my new book MILTON DREAMS THE CITY THAT NEVER WAS. I have to check every word and phrase ahead of publication by the end of August. The book finished with these words.
A CITY OF LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING: During the 2020 pandemic I was interviewed on a radio programme about the work I had been doing supporting homeless-rough sleepers, The Food Bank, vulnerable adults and families with a child sick in hospital. Much of the work I had been doing was at that time on hold due to government regulations. I replied to the radio host’s question saying: The more vulnerable a person is the harder it is for that person to access the help needed.
No matter how long I live I will never forget some words shared with me by former Mayoress of Milton Keynes. She said: It does not matter which good cause you support providing you do support one.
Every town and every city in every country of the world has issues with its government over the care it provides for vulnerable people. It is too easy to blame local government, but I would suggest blame should not be placed at the door of Milton Keynes Civic Offices. It should be placed at my front door and at your front door.
A successful young man, a businessman once told me about his childhood as a runaway, rough-sleeper and juvenile offender. The authorities took him into foster care. He said to me: My foster family loved me out of my situation and made me what I am today. Where would he have been without his adopted family ?
I have said that Milton Keynes Council should be void of politics. What are my own politics ? I am a Utopian. I believe that while it is impossible to be everything to everyone that should not stop you trying. I also believe that if we were to live in Utopia it would be Hell On Earth, Hell on earth as there would be nothing to do, no challenges to engage with.
If we could some how lift things in Milton Keynes, give more love and understanding, not by throwing money at charity shops and the like but on an individual basis just how much we could achieve towards becoming Milton Keynes The City That Truly Is.
Talking about trees and road signs, talking about raising the profile of our ley lines, even trying to remove politics from Milton Keynes Council, these are all practical things which we could write into a plan. To make Milton Keynes a city of love and understanding is nebulous. How many people live in Milton Keynes right now today in 2020 ? Two hundred and seventy odd thousand. If everyone from cradle to care home showed love and understanding during their everyday life we would not need a plan, it would just be natural.
A CITY OF LOVE AND UNDERSTANDING ? That's a dream too far