Writ­ten in Stone e

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion - By CJ STONE

By the time you read this it will be New Year. As I’ve said be­fore, when you start the year is ar­bi­trary.

Where does a circle be­gin or end? I start mine the day af­ter sol­stice, when the light re­turns and the days are get­ting longer.

This year I went to see my friend Bapu up in London. He is an astrologer with an un­canny abil­ity to read your in­ner­most thoughts. He is also se­verely dis­abled and lives in a state of ex­treme poverty.

A few weeks ago he dis­cov­ered that his ben­e­fits had been cut. No one told him this was go­ing to hap­pen, nor why. His only guess is that it must have some­thing to do with Univer­sal Credit. His money was re­duced from around £500 a month to a lit­tle more than £300. This is sup­posed to cover all his needs, in­clud­ing food, heat­ing, light­ing and rent.

Luck­ily for Bapu he lives in a hous­ing co-op and his rent is very af­ford­able. As a sit­ting ten­ant he is un­likely to be evicted.

While I was there I went shop­ping and passed two home­less peo­ple. Un­like Bapu, these are peo­ple who weren’t in se­cure ac­com­mo­da­tion when cir­cum­stances made their homes un­af­ford­able.

We see so many peo­ple on the streets these days. The num­bers are grow­ing by the year. For the first time last year there were peo­ple beg­ging in Whit­stable. I’ve never seen that be­fore.

How has this hap­pened? What kind of a na­tion have we be­come that we see so many home­less peo­ple haunt­ing our towns and cities?

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est fig­ures, the num­ber of home­less in Can­ter­bury has dropped this year, from 73 to 33. That may be true, but the fact we are see­ing peo­ple in the out­ly­ing towns where they never were be­fore should give us pause for thought.

In fact the num­bers na­tion­ally have gone up by 20% while home­less deaths have in­creased by 24%.

Mean­while, the rich­est 100 peo­ple in Bri­tain saw their value rise by £55.5 bil­lion be­tween 2010 and 2017.

Don’t tell me these facts are un­re­lated. The rise in wealth of the rich­est peo­ple in the UK would pay for brand-new houses for all of our home­less.

So here’s wish­ing you a happy New Year. May the re­turn­ing light bring you health and pros­per­ity. May the home­less find warmth and se­cu­rity, and may those whose self­ish­ness has de­prived our world of jus­tice and hu­man­ity awaken to their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties at last.

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