I remember reading Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Communist Manifesto in half an hour while listening to Chinese bamboo flute music on YouTube (it allows me to concentrate, ok). Lifting my glasses off my ears as I read that last sentence, closing the book gently, really questioned my perception on capitalist gains and social class in the UK, particularly.
May I add, this is not a hail to Marxism and why socialism can work in practice. Yet, I find myself in accordance with such thinkers.
There is no doubt that class distinctions is growing at an undutiful pace. My qualm is not just about those with a lot of wealth and trust fund to rely on. It’s those seemingly ordinary citizens amongst us in society who deem themselves to be of higher status than the rest of us.
A bit how Brexit has brought out the closet xenophobe in a lot of individuals.
I volunteer with my university’s law clinic to offer free legal advice to members of the public. The first step involves client interviewing to listen to the problem, ascertain what the client needs, and then to research the legal foundation behind a solution.
Obviously, I’m not going to reveal the details about one interview in particular, but it involved a homeless man, whom we were unfortunately unable to help. I have never spoke to a homeless person before on this level. I can’t call all the times a desperate individual huddling on the street under a damp blanket asking me for change and me politely nodding as a conversation. I have given a McDonalds cheeseburger to a homeless man in the past, which doesn’t make me a humanitarian but more of an endorser of a consumerist company and obesity epidemic.
This man, whom I shall name Toby, was not a delinquent, nor an alcoholic, or drug-addict. He was gracious, concerned of his schedule for that day, and spoke eloquently. I felt peculiarly distraught leaving the building that day, knowing I was heading back to a warm flat with dinner already prepared and currently defrosting to be cooked later that evening, while Toby was heading back to whatever he could call home. Before I headed home, I went Christmas shopping, buying cards, wrapping paper, and a few presents for my boyfriend and a couple of secret Santas. I doubt Toby would be receiving any cards, nor being able to give anything himself.
Homelessness is a devastating problem in this country, with 1 in every 69 people in Brighton alone facing the difficulty. Toby was a lovely man who was plain unfortunate. There are homeless people who have lost their homes due to their own selfish actions, but you can’t generalise this conception to every man or woman shivering on the street pleading for change.
In my future career, I would like to strive for social change, particularly for the working class. But it’s wrong to target this body without addressing the much more serious problem underneath. Yes, rent inflation is terrifying on a low-income job and no help from the government, but at least having a roof over your head is somewhat alleviating.
I certainly will not be ignoring any future homeless individuals that I see on the street. A lot of people get snobbish and state that they do not interact with the homeless because they use any donated money on drugs. Perhaps, because if I were living out of my own coat I would probably have a better time on drugs too.
But there’s no harm in approaching a homeless person and asking what you can get for them, whether that be a new change of clothes, hot food or a hot drink, or toiletries such as sanitary towels for any females.
I genuinely regret all the years gone by that I have intentionally ignored a homeless person. Most of the ones I encounter politely ask for change and still bless me a good day/night after I have ignored them. I feel as though the tables have turned and it is in fact me who is a member of the bourgeoisie, disregarding the vermin proletariat below me. I will never be so naïve again to how homeless people are people too, and just happen to not benefit from the basic necessities that I do. I do feel a hypocrite preaching that I want the best for each person in society, yet narrowly stepping over the hurdle laced with the word ‘homelessness’.
Although I couldn’t directly help Toby’s situation, my brief interaction with him has allowed me to broaden my perceptions on individuals like him, and help in small ways as I have mentioned.
You can also donate directly to the plethora of wonderful charities:
There are also so many ways to directly help homeless individuals during the festive season, whether that be providing hot dinners to even offer accommodation at centres. I really urge you to check out your local homelessness shelters or equivalent if you can spare some free time this Christmas. Such a small gesture can have a radiant impact on a suffering person.