Recently I have been working on a Documentary for a production company in Manchester based on the ever increasing homeless population within Manchester, I usually keep this blog audio related , however I would like to illustrate a just a couple of the issues that are becoming apparent within Manchester.
Begging is Illegal
Many of Manchester Homeless (and the homeless in England in general) spend a large amount of time in prison for non violent, non drug related crimes. This is due to ‘begging’ being illegal, the verdict is 50/50 in most of the interviews if this is a good thing or not.
Many homeless take advantage of the situation during the winter and use it as a way to get warmth and food for 30 days. I like this approach as it shows some entrepreneurial ideas within the homeless to getting a roof over their heads. On the other hand during this time they are treated as criminals for not committing any true crimes (in my eyes). On top of this it leads to many homeless building up a large criminal record due to multiple periods of being in local jails or in some cases prisons, this absolutely shatter’s job prospects for the future as many homeless also build up criminal records for shoplifting during their time as being homeless.
Within Manchester it is illegal to beg , However it is not illegal to Busk/Perform on any instrument etc. This leads to a massive amount of buskers within Manchester, most of these buskers are the homeless using a legal loophole to make money on the streets of Manchester, This is brilliant as it leads to some extraordinary talent and really livens the streets up. Many of the homeless interviewed were directly using this strategy to bypass breaking the law for begging.
I think this is a great idea for the homeless as it does to some extent (alongside allowing them to raise money) help spark creativity within the homeless population, this does on the other hand though lead to migration from other cities within England to Manchester within the homeless. This puts a massive strain on local resources and help for the homeless community as Manchesters homeless community is significantly larger partially due to this.
Racism within the homeless population
The homeless population within Manchester are predominantly White British and a number of homeless people that were interviewed mentioned the Romanian immigrants. The theme with this was that they were not happy about Romanian immigration leading to them getting support from our government and they believe that the government is spending needed resources on immigrants instead of the homeless population. This has led to Verbal abuse, Social exclusion and a number of assaults within the Manchester city center.
This is leading to moderate racism within the homeless community as they view the Romanians being a barrier between them and support they desire. Only one of the interviewees did not mention immigrants during the interview. This being said , this interviewee was currently rehoused by the government and believed that the support systems in place are working.
I can to some extent understand that the homeless population are feeling abandoned. Immigrants are being housed and do find a wealth of support within the U.K, On the other hand i find it hard to believe that they are the barrier here. In an interview one ex-homeless (newly homed) interviewee goes on to tell us that the ‘lack of support’ that is often described is actually more of a ‘lack of knowledge of support’ and he stated that if the support systems were to show more of what they do and how then a larger uptake in these support systems would take place.
My final thoughts on this racism problem are somewhat left wing, I believe that people that are depressed, socially excluded and/or feel hard done by the system may try and find many reasons and issues for a such a large scale problem and generally succumb to mob mentality. Many reasons could lead to the homeless not receiving support, whether these are; Drug Addiction, History of abuse of support, Inability to co-operate with support/law, Inability to access support, knowledge of support existing, etc. however these were not mentioned, and the only main barrier that was truly mentioned was the Romanians. I believe this is Racist and an ill informed choice on their part to blame them. It is extremely easy to blame someone from another country for problems that they are experiencing and many political parties thrive from doing just this. I do however empathize with their situation and hope that the racism issue within Manchester’s homeless is addressed by the support groups within Manchester soon as it is currently a bubbling pot waiting to overflow that could be combated by further education on what support actually exists.
On a final note I could rant all day about problems within the Manchester homeless community. There is a plethora of problems for the homeless in Manchester and I hope this documentary when released manages to educate/inform people of what is really going on.
I have tried to be as factual as possible and have expressed both sides to arguments where I can , this is not a political or sociological platform for a debate, I just wish to inform people on the view’s/experiences I have witnessed/saw.