INVESTIGATION: RESILIENCE PART TWO

Home and homelessneSS

If you don’t have your own home, whether rented privately, government provided, or even owned outright, there are various words that can describe you…

homeless, vagrant, vagabond, rough sleeper, derelict, displaced,disposessed..

If you are a vagrant, you could also be decribed as a bum,vagabond , tramp or drifter…

none of these terms is positive!

The idea of home is so ingrained in our psychological, emotional and even physical makeup, that the idea of being without one terrifies us! It also terrifies governments, as it affects their ability to control the society (looking after the people’s interests of course as is their mandate).

Even people who are at the lowest end of the social scale, petty crminals, drunks, drug addicts, thiefs, the uneducated, the jobless, all look down on people who are homeless!

In the UK where I am based, there are reported to be over 250,000 people classed as homeless (with the majority being in ‘temporary accomodation’ such as Bed and Breakfasts or other non permanent accomodation, like sofa surfing, or staying with friends and family, and over 7000 rough sleepers. I’m not sure how accurate the figures are as each charity and government department have their own research.

Needless to say, the uk government has said it is investing hundreds of millions to tackle the causes of homelessness, and include over 400 million pounds for the Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme, and over 50 million pounds for rehab and detox facilities for people with alcohol or drug addictions.

Add to that all the money homeless charities receive, and the help that friend an families give, and the amount donated by the general public to people begging on the street, and folks, that’s a lot of cash.

The reasons for homelesness are many, but include a loss of tenancy, poverty, unemployment, domestic abuse, addiction, mental and physical health problems, but everyone grees that being homeless is not a good thing, no matter what the reason.

My own reason for homelessness will not endear me to many people really suffering, but I am technically homeless, nonetheless.

As part of the Ariana project, Irun Ariana Sailing Team to teach people resilience, amongst other things. All was going well, until Covid, then BREXIT. We were based in Portugal and sailed my Swan 55, Ariana in the atlantic islands, but after brexit, found we could only stay in the EU for 90 days every 180, and because the boat was VAT paid in the EU, the UK tax authorities required VAT to be repaid on the boat to come back to the UK, in other words, the boat could stay in the EU but I could not, and I could coe back to the UK but the boat could not )as i didn´t have funds available to pay the required VAT!

As Ariana was my primary home, and all my money was invested in her, I was left having t make a difficult decision, leave the boat in the EU, sail somewhere else in the world (which would only be temporary due to visa restrictions) or come back to the UK without my home. I chose the latter, as it was the only place I was able to legally stay and work.

As I struggled to sell the boat, and had run out of cash, I found myself back in London, with nowhere to stay and no money. My dad offered me a temporary room with he and his wife, but was told it could not be long term. I claimed universal credit, and told them that I was homeless, but I was told to contact the council. I explained my situation and was offered the standard payment of 368.74 pounds per month which if you look at the cost of living in the Uk is not even close to what ypu would need to feed, clothe and house yourself.

After being told that I couldn’t stay at my dad’s any longer I had two choices, either move onto the streets of uxbridge and live in a doorway, begging, and hoping to get a bed for the night, or dig deep into my resilience, put my backpack on, and head north on a long distance walk. I chose the latter. Time was of the essence.

Walking was something I was good at, I’d just competed a 1500km walk across Spain and Portugal, and it was a cheap activity (campsites are about ten pounds a night) and in scotland, wild camping is permitted.

Instead of sitting panicking in London about how I was going to get out of the terrible situation I was in, I embarked on a walk with purpose – to achieve something, to work out howw to solve the problems I was in, and come out the other end, stronger.

The realisation that I was on my own (with my dog Hari) and had no money and no home, cut deep, but the longer we walked, the stronger and more resilient I became.

People treated me as a long distance walker not some homeless guy with a dog!

I was in effect, a man with purpose, and walking was that purpose!

Fast foward 5 weeks and here I am, creating a new project, happily camping with my dog on a beautiful island…(Isle of Arran)

Suddenly, I am not a homeless case being dealt with and processed by the government agencies, a lost soul, someone to be pitied, or scorned. I am in control of my destiny!

Well, that may be a bit strong, but through hundreds of miles of challenging walking, where the only routine was walk, set up tent, eat, sleep, take down tent, repeat, and having time not only to enjoy the beutiful countryside, beaches and mountains, and meet new people… I found the very act of walking, and battling throgh wind and rain and cold, that through developing physical resilience, all my mental and emotional problems disappeared.

How did this magic happen?

It’s simple. It’s not magic.

It’s human resilience.

Sure, I’m not fighting drug and alcohol addiction, I don’t have a physical or psychological illness, I’ve always been an adventurer, and am used to the rain and the cold ,being an offshore sailor.

I am not in fear for my life. I am not being abused. I am not being shot at, or bombed. I am not living in an undeveloped country. I am not short of food or water.

And I have the drive and energy, not only to survive , but to thrive, and to help others do the same.

One of my crew gave me a poster last christmas that said, do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and that is precicely what I am doing.

No complaining, no wishing it was different, no wanting more than I have.

For me, homelessness is a state of mind.

We are on this earth for a very short time, and enjoying every moment of it is crucial in my opinion.

If things aren’t working out the wway you planned it’s time to – move!

Being homeless is not something we need to throw millions of pounds at solving, humans have always been on the move, and human movement helps us evolve as a species!

The act of walking with purpose, helps us all accomplish somethimg greater than just being confined in four walls under the illusion that this desire for brick and concrete ‘protection’ will create happinness.

It won’t. And if it does, is only temporary. Your permanent ‘home’ is only permanent until yu start to miss the rent/mortgage payments and the bank/landlord throws you out onto the street.

Only then will you realise that we do not live in a compassionate society, and that your friends soon desert you as soon as you are ‘homeless’.

Listen to Alan’s topic on ‘home’ from the natural mind – waking up here…

NEXT …THE WAY FORWARD

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