I don’t have a lot of material goods. I don’t own my home. I’m not rich by even the wildest stretch of the imagination. Yet I do have something in my life, which right now, is a lifeline to a friend of mine. I have a two-seater, second hand, 15 year old sofa. It’s the only seating in my house, except for wooden kitchen chairs. We used to have a leather three piece suite…clawed and scratched up by a previous tenant’s cats, but serviceable. It belonged to our old landlord, though. When he sold the house from under us and evicted us with only four weeks notice, he refused to let us take the suite. He wanted £200 for it. It had cost £30 second hand. So, we had only the kitsch old sofa I’d bought years ago. It’s small, beaten, weathered and ugly as sin, according to my husband. I bought it (and a three-seater which unfortunately died) as more of a joke than anything else. It was in a charity shop window and it was so hideous I felt sorry for it.
Now, that old battered and beaten sofa is my friend’s new home. I wrote before, about a friend made homeless due to bereavement. That same friend has once again found himself with nowhere to turn. Much as poverty is hidden, so is much of this country’s homeless. My friend, who shall remain nameless, has numerous personal issues. One of which is another ‘hidden’ and ‘shameful’ blight — depression. He needs help, which is proving difficult to get. Suicidal Ideation is present and, when he told his doctor he wanted to die, he was told he had to want to help himself before he could expect help to be given and to go back in two weeks. Isn’t that lovely? A homeless man, out of work, no close family, nowhere to turn, suicidal…told to go away and come back in two weeks.
My sofa isn’t the comfiest thing in the world. It sags and can cripple anyone with a back injury. But it is under a roof that can keep off the rain and it comes with love and an ear attached to it. It also comes with a meal a day. I will need to juggle and get creative, but that one extra mouth needs feeding, so fed it shall be. Until we can jump through all the hoops of ESA/JSA, and get him some kind of benefits. Until we can get council help in finding him a place where he shall not need to be able to produce a deposit, as well as one month’s rent and £150 in agency fees. To be able to be housed, this man — homeless, without money, without savings and without, right now, hope — will need to find about £700. To some, that sum will seem insignificant. To those in his situation, it may as well be a million.
His is a world where, when benefits come to him, he shall be living on a pittance. One so small, that when he gets a bedsit, charged at an extortionate rent, after he has paid utilities and bills, he shall be left with pennies to survive on. They are pennies he is grateful for. A small amount, but one he appreciates. His health and mental state make work an impossibility. This is his life and will likely stay his life. It’s not one he would choose, but it is his and it is worth keeping. Worth fighting for.
This is where friends rally around. Where we will sit with him as he wades through the minefield of legal gumpf and fills out enough forms to fill a wheelie-bin. We will be at his side to help him find a small, cramped, cheap bedsit. We will find him items to cook with, so he can eat. Right now, he has a duvet and clothes from his life ‘before’ it was all lost. We shall prop him up whilst he is too weak to stand, and we shall cheer when he takes those first steps into a new future. We will be there for him for as long as we are needed.
So will my small, insignificant, beaten up, battered, hideous old sofa. Because this is the world of the hidden homeless, and that sofa will mean he is not vulnerable. On the street, left to the elements and discarded from society like a worthless old bit of junk no-one wants in their life. That sofa, as ugly as it is and as uncomfortable as it might be, is his new home. The sofa is more than an item of furniture. It is a promise that it will be there, to hold him safe at night and keep him warm and dry. It means there is a roof, not the sky, above his head. It means he is not alone.
It means there is hope.
I am a Fantasy Fiction author (too much ‘real’ in my life as it is, thank you) and my books are available on Amazon. I am Independently Published — my ‘team’ are my friends. My début novel ” Into The Woods” can be found HERE (UK) and HERE (rest of world). Links to my Author Page and other books can be found through these links. The paperback for Book #1 of the Searching For Eden series can be found HERE. Book #2 shall be available shortly.