Did you see the woman sitting on the street?
Don’t plead innocent,
Admit your deceit!
You saw her alright,
But instead of acknowledging her,
Your feet rapidly picked up the beat.
She asked you for money for something to eat,
Once more your assumptions and ignorance blinded you,
Why give her money to spend on beer, drugs and wine,
Although two of those are on your shopping list,
But of cause,
It’s Christmas time,
You have lots to do,
Seeing family and friends,
From Me to You.
You will be fine,
Spoilt and stuffed on Christmas day,
But that lady on the street,
She won’t just vanish away!
She has no one to be with,
Nowhere to go.
This festive holiday,
Perhaps you need all the money you’ve got,
Giving a little may mean giving a lot.
But a quick smile is free,
It may mean a lot to that woman on the street,
Or shake of the head,
Instead of hurrying feet.
That woman and everyone else vulnerable and in need,
For whatever the reason,
They are still human beings.
They deserve more.
Neglect them not,
They are already at the lowest of the low,
And let down by the system,
Left on the street to rot.
Please spare a thought for them this Christmas,
I am not asking a lot.
That simple and humble kind gesture,
Could really mean an awful lot.
So… December 2016, I decided to put my actions where my thoughts were. I wanted to personally reach out to the vulnerable people of Birmingham, the city in which I was born and live, the city in which I myself am considered vulnerable because of my ill mental health. One man (so to speak) a person like myself, with no wealth, connections in high places, fame or a vast platform, cannot change the world single handily, but I can personally endeavour to try to make a small difference to the world, an impact on society, by persevering to complete my mission of raising awareness of mental health as an individual. I hope that in time, people will choose to join me on my mission, enough people to make a difference. Support me by reading my words, my poetry and blogs, regularly visiting www.adiaryfromnoone.co.uk and sharing my story and experiences with those in need, people who may benefit and learn from my honesty, collaborate with me and get the word out, follow me and recommend me on social media, watch my vlogs, adiaryfromnoone on YouTube. Please don’t interpret this as preaching or a plug but one must repeat themselves in order to get heard.
Every year for the past sixty four years (if my maths is correct, which it most likely isn’t and so don’t quote me), The Queen has given a televised Christmas speech to the Commonwealth realms. Over the years, The Queen has tried a personal touch, reaching the population in their homes, reflecting on the good and bad of the past year and wishing us all a very happy Christmas from The Royals. I must give The Queen credit, or perhaps The Duke Of Edinburgh or Winston Churchill, whoever it was that had the idea to make the reoccurring speech an available spectacle for the entire nation to see, the idea was a stroke of genius and way ahead of its time. Their idea to televise media in the 50’s, mirrors today’s social media and the power of going viral. People love, “Reality Television”. Dancing kittens, celebrities getting drunk, sex scandals, a lot of trivial rubbish with absolutely zero meaning, that is the stuff that gets the highest ratings. Undoubtedly more ratings then the Queen herself, but it is the Queens role to reflect upon the people, even though in reality, The Queen is so far removed from us. So you can make a fool out of yourself, perform like a dancing monkey, lord up your privilege but no one seems to want to know or learn anything of importance. Instead of watching an incredibly privileged or wealthy being discuss war, poverty, illness, homelessness and politics, would you not rather watch/read or hear from someone who is a selfless advocate for the people’s vulnerabilities and the vulnerable sake? I would, because the message would have sustenance, the context should take the spotlight, not the person with an alternative motive of acquiring fame or popularity. Instead of the façade that people are knowledgeable or even care about the unfortunate that The Royals preach about, using a top researchers carefully edited script, rather then personal reflection or research, why is there no platform to hear of these stories from the horses mouth? No gimmicks, no carefully edited tear jerkers, not sugar coated entertainment whilst the phones are ringing and the donation clock is going up and up, just truthful disclosures from those in need, the people on the streets, the abused, the refuges, the drug and alcohol addicts, the criminals, the minorities, the mentally ill, the physically sick, sick children, neglected children, children in care, the poor, the elderly, the lonely. Keeping things simple and focussing on the issue, that is what we need to see and hear in order to learn and advocate change.
On December 23rd 2016, I went to The Salvation Army to visit the homeless, escorted by musical friends who played live music, I sat and spoke to the people, allowed them to talk about whatever they wanted, I mostly listened, allowing them to feel special, acknowledged and heard. There was one man who was making song requests but neither I or my friends, the musicians, knew what he was asking for. He said that when he is on the streets, he sings for money, we welcomed him to sing but at first he declined. About half an hour later, there was this beautiful moment where he blossomed like a flower. Very quietly he began to sing and as we listened his confidence grew and he belted out his own lyrics for all of us to share and hear. That is the kind of thing that should be on YouTube, if only I had permission to film. I gave them gifts for Christmas and expressed my empathy.
I then went straight onto Summer Hill House, a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts, this time alone! I gave a speech whilst introducing myself and disclosing my intensions and my experiences of being institutionalised in a mental health hospital over Christmas not so long ago, I read them the poem above, sang silent night as an impromptus duet with one of the service users that I had crossed musical paths with in the past, on guitar. I held an open conversation about what they would say if, “The People’s Speech” was actually a thing. I intended to make a mockumentary of, “The Queens Speech” but with some home truths from the actual mouths of some actual real life vulnerable people, but I did not get around to it and so instead, please read on.
Most of the people in rehab were homeless, some spoke of family neglect and being in the social services and care homes from a very early age, throughout childhood and how damaging that can be. Some spoke of being so lonely, no family, no friends, no security, no home, how they just wanted to be acknowledged and feel significant. They spoke of how emotionally crippling it is to be ignored on the streets. They appreciate that not everyone can afford to dish out money, they are more then aware of the connotations that go alongside with begging on the street but would prefer to not be prejudged, stereotyped, stigmatised but most importantly ignored. Just a smile, nod/shake of the head or a brief hi or sorry would help lift their mood and confidence because they already feel bad enough for being out there and asking as it is. They spoke of how they don’t have phones or internet and so all of those messages about calling support lines online, may as well be spam. They spoke of how they have no access to information on where to go for food, a bed, healthcare etc. They want more hands on care and their most poignant message was that they are there all year round, not just at Christmas, although grateful, Christmas seems to be the only time that people remember to spare them any thought.
Overall, I was fortunate to spend the afternoon with some rather hard done by but extremely strong individuals, Circumstance lead them to where they are but they are human, just like us and all they need is a lifeline, but there are very few and extremely hard to come by. I vow to take on bored what they said. I will at the very least acknowledge them, just the same as I would anyone else. I tried to bring a little light to their life, I gave them material Christmas gifts from my own pocket but I think the gift that they were most thankful for, was my time, thoughtfulness and kindness. They felt significant, and so they should.
I am not asking you to give these people materialistic things, you don’t even have to empty your pockets! I am asking you to open your eyes and hearts, it sounds ludicrous but, just a small gesture of acknowledgement can actually save lives, revitalise these people by lifting their spirits, life is hard enough for them, without being ridiculed or dismissed! No one likes to be ignored, because it is cruel, if the shoe was on the other foot and you are completely honest, I am sure hat you can appreciate my very small request, give a little light to these people in the darkness.