Homeless in Evington, Leicester LE5.
I met him on my way to the shops in Evington one morning in early April ’22. Like a lot of people, I don’t usually give cash to homeless people, but I did stop to talk and listen. This man, ‘Ken’ was in his thirties and was sitting on the pavement in a small gap against the wall and with a notice. He was homeless. He said “It all started with the death of my mother. I then suffered with mental health difficulties and a relationship breakdown with my partner.” He said he understood why men between 20 and 40 who found themselves homeless were not priority with the Council, but he had hoped for better support. In two years he wasn’t able to move forward with his mental health issues while coping with living on the streets. The day I met him he said that the Council had found him a home in Thurnby and he would move in the following day. He came to Evington to get away from the streets in Leicester where he felt vulnerable. He wanted to spend his last day on the streets in a pleasanter area and hoped to get enough money to travel back to Leicester and get possession of his new flat the following day.
His notice said:
Opinions about homelessness from local residents in April 2022
I decided to ask some people today (April ’22) what they had to say about homeless people on the streets.
“I do find it threatening to find homeless people begging by the supermarket checkouts”.
“Hand up, not hand out”.
“I think that if the City Council can spend a lot of money on pavements, fancy zebra crossings and things like that, then they should be able to get grants for helping homeless people and setting up humanitarian ways of helping people when bad times hit.”
“Spending years on the streets homeless exacerbates the situation, making recovery much more difficult.”
“I think men in particular get a rough deal when relationships go wrong and they become homeless.”
“The question isn’t “How can we stop begging?” but rather “how can we set up ways to help people who find themselves homeless?”
I do know of a business man who preferred to be on the streets rather than alone taking responsibility for looking after a house.”
“There is also a problem with our system which categorises somebody as a child and then suddenly they are an adult and can find themselves homeless.”
“I have known a homeless, one legged man in a wheelchair, who was so abused that he wanted to give people money to keep them away.”
“There was an old man of Evington, who dressed up in many coats tied in the middle with string, and wandered the streets. He has long gone now, but he didn’t want the responsibility of running a home.”
“There are people down the road from me who come round asking for jobs or money and if it’s a job they get, they don’t deliver. I know one of them is an alcoholic. One of them is a lovely man to talk to, but any money he gets goes on drink. He can be seen begging on the streets although he has somewhere to live.”
I write to government ministers asking why more isn’t done to help homeless people” Claudia Webbe, MP for Leicester East.
Comments from 2018 published in the April/May 2018 Evington Echo magazine:
Rev. David Morris said:
“Homelessness can happen to any one of us, regardless of our work, profession or status.”
Most homeless people are just normal people like you and me, who have found themselves in desperate times due to marriage breakups, battles with families, ex-servicemen and women who struggle to readjust to life back in the real word, bad choices leading to addictions (from which there is little chance of escape) and simply losing their jobs. Without a regular income you can’t pay the rent. The majority of people have little or no savings – many are only a few last pay cheques away from eviction. It wouldn’t take much for any of us to hit hard times”
Addy Tyler spoke about a homeless man called Alan, in his thirties, who had been found dead in Evington Park. It was an unexplained, but not suspicious death. He had been sitting outside Tescos in Evington for 2 years, right through winters, in the rain and snow. “He was just grateful for donations from passers-by, who could tell he was down on his luck. He was appreciative and polite. He appreciated people stopping to have a chat with him, as a real person, not just a homeless man.”
“He was always down at the Council trying to get a flat, but he never seemed to be high enough priority. How can councils let people struggle for so long? Surely enough affordable housing could be created? These people need a front door they can call their own and an address. Without n address you can’t register with a doctor to keep yourself well, and can only seek medical help when you’re at crisis point. Without somewhere to live you can’t keep yourself clean and you can’t get a job. Without a job you can’t afford an address … so the vicious circle goes on …. A roof could be the turning point to get so many people back on track.”