It seems to me that living amongst us are whole nations of dispossessed whose needs and rights are ridden over in the interests of the majority
I volunteer at a shelter for Rough Sleepers. And I went along with the middle-class motive that I would help these unfortunate people. Then today I realised as I was helping someone fill in an application for a Post Office account that I was the same as this guy; that I was in his cadre and he in mine; that I was a Member of the Legion of the Lost and that I was not alone.
I now see that there is a vast shambling army of us, some out in the open on the streets, some concealed behinds suits and houses and deposit accounts but that we are everywhere
We need to acknowledge to ourselves that we belong and when we do we can help.
Since I acknowledged my membership of this legion I find I am becoming more and more comfortable in its embrace. The clients at the rough sleepers shelter where now feel like colleagues and I no longer have to exert myself to keep a distance between them and me as I am one of them just a bit more fortunate. It is an appalling waste of time and effort to attempt to emphasise difference: more money, more education, more freedom, more success, being better than, superior to when fundamentally there is no difference. Once I acknowledge that I am not alone and I am equal to all them and above all they are equal to me I become free to utilise what I have without having to perform or be judged. It doesn’t mean I don’t use what I have and that I don’t have a profound responsibility to use it, if anything it emphasises that ( Simone Weill said the basis of life is obligation – if I have an excess of food my obligation is to give it to one who does not have enough) but I no longer have to use it to improve my position, to go up the rankings. There are no rankings there is just a sea of humanity and within that we have an obligation to help each other and fulfilling that
Out of my volunteering has sprung – if that’s the right word the event below.
Listening to the Unheard. Practice that works: how to encourage social cohesion in an urban context. One-day workshop.
This is a free event. Everyone is welcome. .
10.00 am to 5 pm, June 30th 2018, First Base Day Centre, St Stephens Hall, Montpelier Place, Brighton BN1 3BF
The objective of this workshop is to facilitate engagement with the experiences of Travellers and rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove and to offer for discussion conclusions and content based on field research with Irish Travellers and rough sleepers.
The initiative responds to the challenging circumstances in which Travellers live with very limited dedicated spaces for them and the dramatic increase in people sleeping rough in the last two years in England. The event is intended to provide insights into the subjective experiences of these two marginalised groups, to examine the complex situation of these communities and explore ways in which their welfare can be improved .
The participants will include representatives of the two communities, artists, institutional figures and front line support staff.
Two free publications of interviews with Irish Travellers and rough sleepers, collected over a period of several years, will be available on the day.
The Homeless Library, a collection of books handmade by homeless people, reflecting on their lives and how they connect with the wider, previously unwritten heritage of homelessness and curated by the arts organisation Arthur + Martha, will be available for inspection throughout the day.
PROVISIONAL PROGRAMME (Participants T.B.C.)
10.00-10.15 Welcome and introduction. First Base Staff with Roberta Piazza, Philip Morgan and Sarah Lee. The meaning and function of the workshop.
10.15 – 11. 00 Experience. The voice of the Horsdean residents (T.B.C.) and reflection on interviews at Horsdean (Roberta Piazza)
11.00 – 11.15 Coffee break
11.15 – 11.45 The institutional view. Rachel Chasseud: What the Travellers Liaison Department does and can do for Horsdean
11.45 – 12.15 Slot in progress Health and social care
12.15-13.00 Panel with FFT (Friends Family and Travellers) and Labour Councillor Nancy Platts. How to encourage social cohesion. Chair: Aidan McGarry (Loughborough University, London).
13.00-13.45 LUNCH BREAK
13.45 – 14.30 Experience: the voices of the homeless and reflections on interviews at First Base (Philip Morgan)
14.30 -15.15 The homeless library
15.15 – 15.30 Coffee break
15.30 – 16.30 Panel: Interventions: the way forward. Resources and services for rough sleepers: BHT staff, Brighton & Hove Councillors (Alex Phillips, Ollie Sykes), Anthony McCoubrey (Beyond the Box project,) Mind. (tbc) Arch Healthcare Street Clinic (tbc). Chair: Margaret Greenfields (Faculty of Society & Health, Buckinghamshire New University)
16.30 – 17.00 Summing up. Learning from the day. What can be done for Travellers and rough sleepers and how local authorities and agencies can collaborate to improve resources in existence. Chairs: Philip Morgan and Roberta Piazza.
The event is sponsored by the University of Sussex RIF (Research Impact Fund) and HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Funding), is part of Brighton Dome summer programme and supported by FABRICA