Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A book about homelessness

It is a shameful gap in our culture that there is not one history book solely dedicated to telling the story of homelessness in Britain. In the following interview, a participants in The Homeless Library project discusses some of the reasons for homeless people being our very own, homegrown "Disappeared".

'The Listener' 2 pages from Kenny's book for The Homeless Library

The Homeless Library is the first ever attempt to write a history of homelessness in Britain. It includes not only individual testimonies, but also poetry and art, giving it a shape like no other.  


When people have got no direction, they've got to try to head somewhere. But it's difficult to find a direction when you're homeless. No framework, no map.

We need a book about homelessness. I've been many places looking for a book about homeless people. I got my friend to look on Google for me. There's nothing. I just learned to read in the last two years and I want to read a book about homeless people like me.

'Four and a half months' 1 pages from Kenny's book for The Homeless Library

Cities don't want the trouble of knowing how many people are really homeless. The council are saying there are 46 homeless people in Manchester right now. I could go out and find at least 100 people in one small area in Manchester. Nine or 10 years ago we had a homeless demonstration and there were about 9000 people there. It's a problem on the Council of covering up. I know where people sleep with rats. But they prefer that to being in hostels.

You get put in a hostel you've got to do courses three days a week. You've got to handing your key at the desk like a little boy when you go out. These are grown man treated like a piece of shit.

I've heard massive argument with councillors. I went with a friend to a council meeting where they were talking about homeless people. I said: "All you are doing is sweeping them under the carpet. You're not asking them what they want. You talk about them drinking in Piccadilly, but they were drinking out of the way quietly, before you moved them on."

They described homeless people as scum.

I want to get homeless guys together and fix up an old building. I'd put everyone in a building. But it would get classed as a demonstration and we'd get banged up.

Interview with Phil at The Wellspring, April 2015. The Homeless Library is a project devised by arthur+martha to document the heritage of homelessness using interviews, artworks, poetry. It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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