001: Worcester

I sank into a mire of despondency at being homeless again and finding myself at the end of an epic journey across the country to try and get into a hostel. This was during a pandemic, when services that are supposed to be provided by the government had all but ceased to exist. A train delivered me to Worcester Foregate Street on a Saturday night not so long before the pubs closed. Another new city engulfing my psyche but a place where I had decided to make a final stand. In the process of exploring the city over the next forty-eight hours I was guided in the direction of YSS from the Maggs Day Centre.  Everyone involved in my care here was magnificent and when Lisa got to me the very next day, it was clear that I had become her first priority. She helped me to fill out applications for hostel places in and around the immediate area, shepherding me through the complicated forms and questions.

That Tuesday night she secured me emergency accommodation in the city for three nights. This is the kind of direct intervention that helps most for street homeless and was appreciated to the furthest extent. I may never be able to repay the hospitality I was shown in Worcester by this organisation and would recommend them as the elite in the struggle against poverty. My time in Worcester and the people I met will stay with me, the way they sprang into action and the competence and efficiency with which they delt with me will never be forgotten. As it happens my personal crisis was solved by earlier actions, I now live in another place. But it might have been a very different outcome had Lisa from YSS not been there to make sure of my security and direct me to greener pastures.

She had no illusions either. I think many people imagine that because one used to be in the Army they might be used to sleeping rough, or rugged enough to cope well. But have no blinders about what it’s like to sleep on the street. It is tiresome, horrid, terrifying and painful. The dangers are multiple, the food is scarce, the hygiene deteriorates and the isolation is depressing. There is no city where the streets are paved with gold. There is no happy medium. To meet people who care and to interact with them is not only vitally important for those street survivors like me, during the crisis and after - it is also critical for how we view ourselves as a society by measuring what we are prepared to do for its most deprived members.

YSS and similar organisations seek to level the playing field and they could not do this without the dedicated and competent staff they employ. Lisa wasted no time in her efforts to see that my crisis had more than a satisfactory outcome. She was calm, supportive and intelligent and I am forever in her debt. YSS could also not function minus those generous donors who selflessly go out of their way to provide them with the resources necessary to recover those lost souls. So, I need to thank them as well because every time someone donates to people like YSS our society as whole becomes a little more level, a fraction safer, marginally less painful.