homelessness is a state of mind, I used to say, until I really was!Alan macmillan orr
a life long adventurer , I have had a fairly carefree life, living in hotels, serviced apartments, shacking up with girlfriends, living on the boat, etc… so I never considered myself ‘homeless’.
That was people who lived on the streets – drug addicts, down and outs, alcoholics, and they generally smelled bad, and slept in doorways, wrapped in disused cardboard boxes from the nearest retail establishment.
I certainly wasn’t like them – Iwas educated, well spoken, well dressed, able to communicate with people from all walks of life, with numerous skills to back me up should i ever have the need of them.
Then I ran out of money.
For years I had a rather loose relationship with money. Loose, in the way it slipped through my fingers.
So no, I dont deserve your sympathy. I had a mission, a goal, to make the world a better place with my projects, and due to the way Ifelt about human society as a whole, felt it would be rather unethical to engage in work I didn´t belive in, or which conflicted with my values.
So running out of money, whilst a surprise to me was, in everyone elses eyes, inevitable ! Apparently you cant spend years thinking, writing, and helping people without running out of money.
Not if you don´t work!
Where was I?
Oh yes, BREXIT…
Here was I living great life running Ariana Sailing Team, part of The Ariana Project, when I suddenly found out that not only could I not live and work in Europe anymore, I couldn´t bring my home back to the UK as the British government wanted me to pay UK VAT on the boat )even though EU VAt had been paid when we were still a member of the EU!
I never in a million years though it would happen, BREXIT, that is.
I thought being part of the EU was a great thing. Not only could we travel and work freely, amd live wherever we wanted, but finally, after centuries at war, the European countries were now at peace.
so in August this year, I foubd mysef back in the UK without a boat (home), but ith nowhere to live, no network of friends and fmily willing to put me and Hari (my labrador I got wheen I was looking after my mum for 3 years who was stricken with dementia and cancer) up..
‘What the hell am I going to do?’ I asked myself I’m going to end up on the streets!
This suddenly scared me as I knew that living on the streets would be a very dangerous experience..
I decided, for the first time in my life to throw myself upon the mercy of the great british benefit system (univeral credit) to see if they could help me…it turned out that they could offer me a little cash (368 per month) but I would need to ask the local council for help.
My permanent address that I gave was my dad’s who lives in a London urban environment, but the idea of living in a homeless hostel in London did NOT appeal to me!
At this time , my mobile phone provider cut me off due to non payment.
‘Time to go for a walk’ I said to Hari
So we used the money we borrowed from my dad and headed for the lake district to do the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast…
I bought a tent , sleeping bag and camping stove but had no money for shoes, so just carried on in my socks and sandals that i had done the 1700km of the Camino Frances and Camino Portugues for the previous 2 months (while I was desperately trying to avoid coming back to the UK after leaving my boat, Ariana)
Suddenly I wasn’t homeless anymore, I was a man with purpose..and nobody treated us as homeless…we were coast to coasters …
TO BE CONTINUED…