Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Been through it

JT's story in The Homeless Library asks many questions and gives no easy answers. How do you repair the inner damage that homelessness is an outer sign of? How do you make a new start when the past still weighs heavily? What exactly is it that we get in exchange for experience?


I started writing it, I put: "It started when I had a partner, good job, house; in the space of three months I lost all three." Partner first then job and house, not good. It was basically three things at once then I went homeless. I was homeless in Manchester first. A friend said I could stay with him in Bury two weeks. Then it all started again, homeless again on the streets. Because I didn't have a connection in Bury it took ages to get a place, two and a half years homeless in Bury in hostels. Then I got offered four places in the space of a week.

'Not a penny to my name' detail of artist book for The Homeless Library

I had me first breakdown. Had a few, had one where I just gave up. When I was homeless I was constantly fighting trying to get help. Others were getting help and I subconsciously thought I was being picked on because I wasn't from Bury. It made me mentally fight. I've never been given anything, never, always had to fight. Others got grants, I got tough. 

As a kid I used to fight to get listened to, fight mentally and physically.

Breakdown, I didn't speak literally didn't speak. In my eyes being homeless has destroyed my life. Now I'm going for jobs I'm always second because I've got no experience. Even when I was in hostels I always did stuff. But always got second. For two and a half years I felt I was being ignored, for help, for an opportunity. Now what I want to do is help people I've been through it myself and I can explain to people it'll get better. But right now it's getting worse because I'm not getting a job. I'm nothing but nice to everyone.

Someone I knew was homeless two days and was crying like a baby. I had it two and a half years - slight difference. While being homeless I learned the only one who's going to do it is me. People say they want to help but don't if I don't get off my arse and do it is not going to get done. Self-reliant.

When I was a kid I did get blamed for things that were nothing to do with me most of the stuff I was accused of I didn't know anything about. This is the thing that annoys me because I'm clever. Being homeless ripped me apart, being homeless I was ignored. I don't get paid jobs because I haven't been in one for a long time. What's the point of getting up, cleaning your teeth, etc., etc.?

30 June 2015

I'm clever yet ignored. During the last 10 years I've always done volunteering and I've always been given promises. But when it comes to the crunch the promise is non-existing. I get told no. I work for B&Q for a month as a volunteer with a limp because I'd had knife damage to my toe. At the end they told me "No jobs are going". The jobs seem to go to young people who don't know what they're doing, or people from overseas. You should get the job because of how you do the job not because you're gay straight male female black white. I'm a white straight male and I get ignored.

When a job is available you've got to have experience. I'm 37 now I'm going to be 50 years old cleverest person in the room yet never been given a chance. All I need is someone to give me a chance. 

I get paranoid. When I first got homeless I didn't get help. Homeless 2 1/2 years. I knew a guy who was homeless one night and he got help and got offered a job. Because of the situation I've not got confidence to start a new relationship. Feel I've got nothing to offer, feel I'm in the same nothing.

They say everyone deserves happiness but not for me, nothing goes right. With jobs. My private life is non-existent. If a girl tries to chat me up I have to question - why? All I've heard so far today, all I've heard, is people wanting my help. I do try to help but what do I get? I get depressed.
Monoprint, detail of artist book for The Homeless Library

I think I might be bipolar. I feel, today, great but an hour later might feel like shit. I've always had it but always known how to control it. Hard to see the good in something when nothing good happens. 

I get acknowledgement here (The Booth Centre) but I work hard and get no reward. I feel I'm being punished. Thinking of leaving. I've been told so many times keep smiling, but nothing good is going to come out of it. Why should I smile? 

Got used to it so much I can't do nothing about it.

The thing is, homelessness affects different people different ways. Alcohol affects different people different ways. It's called individualism. Everyone reacts differently. A generalisation is, everyone assumes it's easy to get out of that position. Think about benefits, for example. Ian Duncan Smith has just said he could live off £55 for a week. Sure he can do it for a week, but try it for six months. He thinks he can do it cos he assumes something. People assume about the homeless. Assume it's easy, it isn't.

Interviewed by Phil at The Booth Centre, June 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.

No comments: