People often find their voice through creative projects. As well as arts and crafts, creative writing provides a way to express ideas and thoughts about being homeless and the recovery journey. Two oral history participants have shared their work, below, with other examples in the exhibition at LSE.
Walkabout in London by Ronald
Imagining my mission on the street
I had yet to be downtrodden by other feet
Money was already getting scarce,
Could I find my way out of this place?
So, despite the hazards of the day,
Looking for signs may not prove the way
Also, thinking about starting again,
Keeping an even keel was difficult to maintain
Alone, languishing in parks and gardens,
Relying on others, not without pardons.
Back Home lambs were appearing in the fields,
Tramps went out with Green Shields,
East 17 restored my faith in human beings,
When two worlds collide, it can be demeaning,
Crossing over the Thames, one evening,
My mother's words came back to me in sensing.
One morning, I sheltered from the rain,
Meanwhile I was thinking about setting off again
In my quest to see Whitehall,
Distance was difficult to unravel before nightfall
All roads leading to Baker Street,
The people there could help to make your life complete!
Westminster and its entirety will be here forever,
It is up to us to see that the link doesn't sever.
My Path to the Open Door by Esther
....When I lost my flat, I was left lying on my back, barely breathing, the pain intense and the dream of going all the way crushed. Much like an injured sportsman, it wasn't only for my sake I wished things had been different. In my new acquired state of homelessness, I realised I would require a closer set of shoulders to lean on: friends, clinicians, social workers and the government's ever tightening purse to get me back on my feet. For the first four months of the next two years, I worked through an agency while renting a room here and there in search of a cheaper one. The pay was so bad; I sometimes went without food in order to afford rent and fare to work.
The search for convenient accommodation led me to move across seven different boroughs within twenty-four months. During this time, I lived in eleven different addresses renting, borrowing, begging, and finally, in irrepressible agony, screaming for help. In some of these places (including rented) I slept on dining chairs, on mattress-less floors, on safari beds and once, on a corridor without any beddings. In one, the walls were black with damp and from Christmas Eve to second day of the New Year, I was alone in a house with no heating through the "festive season"...
Soon after the second empty Christmas, I voiced my desire to leave this world when I kept a hospital appointment. A few days later I was led back to the same Local Authority from where I first started my homeless journey. I masked the realisation that they could see my desperation. Since day one of becoming homeless the dire situation had not changed although I approached them with the understanding that it was nobody's responsibility to house me nor a right I could fist-fully claim. And anyway, in their books, I did not fit in the priority criteria even though I was actually homeless.
I cannot count the times I cried in these buildings' toilets, out on the streets, even on public transport after yet another definite NO was nicely thrown in my face. Coming from different directions, it became one NO too many for one soul to take. I concluded that hopelessness does not actually come out of lack of anything apart from the darkness one faces in a solitary channel. I had tired of trying to find the way out and wondered if I had exhausted the "Helping Shoulders".