My Winter Weekend Homeless in South London

I’m not new to homelessness. As a young adult that was pushed out of my home at 16 years old, I’ve had to deal with an abundance of ‘sticky situtations,’ and ‘Close Calls.’ The problem, however, is that when you are a teenager dealing with homelessness, there’s a certain amount of sympathy given to you. This sympathy can seem frivolous and even uncomfortable, but realistically, it’s this sympathy that becomes the most powerful weapon in your arsenal, because when things get desperate (and they do. A LOT) Because people care.
At 25, that all changes even with my psychosis, the level of urgency in which the council and the people around you want to help dwindles and eventually subsides.
Math time. Frankly speaking, I receive a total of £380 towards my £600 rent per calendar month, and a further £400 for bills, food, travel, etc. so inevitably I have to use £220 out of that to cover the remainder of my rent, leaving me with £180 to pay everything else, for a month. I manage. Barely. And I live in a shared house.
So it was understandable that for the third consecutive month I was late paying my rent. The feeling when you return home from work ready to snuggle up to a good film and pass out, only to realize that every belonging I had, had been taken from my room leaving it bare and cold is not one I will ever forget. No contingency plan in place, I slumped, defeated, against my bedroom door while dialing my landlord frantically. Although the severity of the situation has been the result of a misunderstanding, the fact remained that I hadn’t paid my rent and after an exhausting 20 minute plea, my landlord gave me three days to come up with £600. Half that amount was in my savings as I’d already put it aside for rent, and I was due to be paid £95 at the end of the week (little did I know, HSBC had a big surprise for me in the form of a disgustingly expensive charge that would effectively erase that money) so needless to say, Friday came and I was out. I called the council, and was told to call back on Monday.
The first night I spent with a guy I’d hooked up with off Grindr, in his million pound two bed in Central London. Asking for his help was not only pride destroying but also, it also filled me with resent, surrounded by his immaculate and artfully designed apartment only made me pine for a place that I could securely call home. Although I unexpectedly didn’t have to curb his sexual advances, I laid my head on the memory foam pillow, and for the first time in years, I felt sorry for myself, and wept quietly so not to wake him up.
Saturday night I contemplated what I would do when the working week began, and I had nowhere to shower, nothing to wear and nowhere to sleep, and understandably, panic set in.
I realized that the only possession I had on me, My MacBook, would have to be pawned. So again, I called my landlord and begged him for my room back. That conversation was one of the worst I’ve ever had to endure, but by the end of it I was given an ultimatum; pay the rent by Sunday night or lose the room entirely. Saturday night was a dangerous combination of ‘housing through Grindr’ which resulted in me being in a room full of guys eyeing me up like I was a hot meal during fasting.
Sunday I headed to Streatham to reluctantly hand over my MacBook Pro in exchange for the sum to make up the total of the rent. After which I arranged to meet a somewhat surprised landlord who was obviously shocked I’d managed to procure the money.
Monday evening I was back at my old place with all my belongings in black bags and a void where my laptop used to be, realizing there is only three weeks until I have to do it all over again, and the slow ticking of a clock interlacing with the wails of my abandoned Mac from the shelving units of the pawn shop.
The fact is, paying my rent and all my other commitments is near impossible, the frequency in which I get paid is inconvenient and the amount is inconceivable. With no family to rely on, and friends who are barely able to survive themselves, I am doomed to wrestle with anxiety every month as I calculate ways to stay alive. I’m not lazy, and although my Psychosis is disabling sometimes, I am still looking for a job that would fit well with the life I’ve had to create because of it. I haven’t given up. But it’s not hard to understand why there are so many reports of people committing suicide after having there benefits stopped under the ‘fit to work’ regime. The right to live is a basic human right, so why is the government trying so hard to shatter it.
Iain Duncan Smith should be forced to live for two weeks off the money that we are entitled to through benefits. How is it right that someone who has had no experience of hardship in the 21st century, dictates policies on the subject.
These are this I would worry about. If I had the space in my head for it
I’ll be homeless again in three weeks, and the government do not care.


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