If I say the word Homeless to you, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Back in the day, homeless people were people living on the streets with addictions, probably alcoholics or drug abusers. If you were the type of person who looked into this stuff, maybe you would include former prisoners, coming back into society with no support or rejecting the support available to them.
In the 70’s and 80’s if that was your view of homelessness then you were probably close to the mark, but all of that has changed in society today and one teatime drama is illustrating the problem and bringing it straight into our living rooms every weeknight.
Whether you’re a die-hard Emmerdale fan or have been forced to sit and watch the well-known soap with your Granny after tea time or have never even considered watching the show…there is a lesson to be learned from one principle story line.
How easy it is today to become homeless.
Let me give you a little insight into the situation lovable character Bob Hope has found himself in…
A family fall out and marital break-up is the trigger to Bob’s (Tony Audenshaw) downfall. Leaving the family home means that Bob has also lost his job and over the Christmas period his financial struggles truly begin and intensify into the New Year.
Without a home, limited funds and too proud to ask for help Bob finds a part-time job at the local pub and finds shelter by sleeping in his works’ pub cellar. However, when discovered by the landlady, he gets fired.
Needless to say the speed in which his life has crumbled seems to ‘fit the storyline’, but unfortunately this timescale and situation is easily recognized by a number of our homeless players who participate in our Home Fixtures project. Many of them feel that the storyline mirrors their own experience which even the strongest minds would struggle to cope with and Depression and anxiety easily seep in.
The last we see of Bob is sleeping in freezing conditions on a park bench before being rushed to the hospital as the cold has left him with limited signs of life.
It is not fiction.
It is not just a drama on TV.
This happens to real people every day.
The Real Stories
The stories we hear from our Homeless and Mental Health and Wellbeing players will never be put on a screen. However, we commend Emmerdale for tackling this terrible issue in a way that captures an audience. What we’ve learned through our work is this…
Everyone’s scenario is different.
Some are cast adrift after family break ups; others have no extended family or friends who can take them in. Some would rather face the streets than the toxic environment that lives in their home.
However, the one thing we should never forget about people we help and work with.
They are human. And should always be treated as such.
Our players use football as a lifebelt that stops them from drowning in the sea of anonymity and brings hope through their commitment to a team and to keep their minds and bodies active.
They wait days, weeks, months to find a place to call their own. Often being offered properties that are barely habitable and would never be offered to people like you and me, who have never been homeless.
Nothing beats the celebration when a player comes in and tells the group that he has secured a tenancy and I have seldom, if ever, seen such support from a peer group who are only too happy to help move furniture, paint a room or a lay a carpet for their mate.
For many of our players Bob’s story is all too familiar but amidst the tough challenges and the crushing lows they still show up to training, work hard and encourage each other to better themselves and their lives.
So, the next time you see a homeless guy in the street, please remember this story. Either because you are an Emmerdale fan or you are just a caring person. And maybe, just maybe, we can take the time to learn something from them…
To learn more about our homeless programmes and how you can be a part of making change click here.
To consider raising money for one of our programmes and becoming a Challenge Yourself Champion click here.