On my way back from uni to an appointment I needed to attend, I stopped by a homeless person.
“Hey, you with the Hair (lol), I know you are busy, and you are probably trying to avoid me but, can you please listen to me before you pass by.”
I removed my earphones out of my ears and proceeded to listen.
He said, “ I know what you think of me, it is true I want money but I promise you I am not a drug dealer or an alcoholic but I need food ( in truth I don’t believe those things of him, and even if he were addicted to something, I could empathise with how that might develop).
The man continued “I am asking, can you spare any money or buy me food if you can? I would appreciate it.”
I responded somewhat in shock with the on-point analysis of the stereotypes and how articulate he was in communicating his message.
I said, “I am so sorry for the position you are in, and I do not place you at fault, “I am not as narrow-minded as you believe.. I don’t have much change on me but I cannot deny you the right to eat.” I looked into my wallet and gave him £1. 70 which was the amount available in my wallet.
Before he left, I shook his hand and wished him luck to help him out of his situation.
On reflection, I could not help but feel how incredibly accurate the narrative was against his plight and many others. How have we come to a situation where we criminalise the homeless, poor and working class - the narrative emphasised by capitalism and neoliberalism.
Can we exercise empathy and treat these people as humans, not delinquents?
The story has to change, and the judgement must stop. We can only measure that by eradicating homelessness, replacing the narrative of criminalisation to one of empathy and pushing for redistribution of wealth.
We must vote for a political party that embraces those changes.
Michael Tyrone Shortt
Jennie Formby: Labour's new general secretary