Written in Stone e
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.