It’s all very well telling people to stay at home to combat the Corona Virus. But what about those who have no roof over their heads? Those who have no home to return to?
Extract about homelessness
In Stories People Tell, amongst other things, Annie sets out to publish the stories of those whose voices don’t get heard, using video and the Internet to enable people to bear witness. In this extract she is listening to a homeless grandmother forced to look after her granddaughter, Pet, who has ceased to talk since her mother died.
“My daughter had a flat and a job. It wasn’t well paid. The place was a dump. But we got by. The three of us. The father was supposed to pay. But he never did. Then my daughter lost her job. Cutting back on cleaners the supermarket said. We got benefit for a while. Then that ran out. Some hitch in the system. They have no money either. The landlord threatened eviction. My daughter took to the street. She was desperate. The money was good. Sometimes. It paid the rent. And we had something to eat. But one of the blokes got violent. Exploded in a frenzy. Roughed her up. Couldn’t stop punching and kicking. The ambulance arrived too late. Pet was there when her mother died. Saw it all. I remember it so well. She sat there like a doll, frozen, her eyes blank, not understanding. How could she? It was too much. She was just five. That’s when she stopped talking. Hasn’t spoken a word since. The police never caught the guy. If ever they tried. The landlord kicked me and Pet out. Didn’t want such sordid people in his house. Folks give us food. From time to time. Or a bit of money. Like this afternoon. I was to get a fiver. For taking part in the demonstration. We muddled by. Then Pet got ill. There was nothing I could do. Doctors don’t want to treat homeless beggars. The hospital wouldn’t have us. Thank heavens she recovered. On her own. Sometimes I wonder why. But the worst is not having a place to go. When evening comes. People are hurrying home to a good meal. And we have nowhere. And nothing to eat. It kills you in the end. I’ve seen loads of people give up. They find a quiet corner. So as not to disturb. Then just lie down and never get up.”
Find out more about the novel Stories People Tell.