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You are here: Home > Forum > A Place of Safety > General Talk > tears streaming down my face ...
tears streaming down my face ...  [message #59955] Fri, 04 December 2009 00:14 Go to previous message
NW is currently offline  NW

On fire!
Location: Worcester, England
Registered: January 2005
Messages: 1559



This is going to be long, and rambling, and I still don't know if I'll press "delete" or "submit" at the end of it. Please bear with me - especially those who know some of this already. I apologise in advance if bits of it read like a bad story on Nifty!

OK, I've been feeling fragile today. I just lost my temper yesterday: the first time for about four years, and ended up in a white and shaking state for a while. Apart from the physical distress, it reminds me too much of my father - it's exactly the kind of state he used to get in to when he became really violently abusive. That makes it all very scary - though I have not hit anyone in anger since the age of seven, and don't think I ever would. So there's that, and my father's death in June seems to mean that I'm handling it in a rather different way than I did last time it happened. It's not a frequent occurrence!

Then, there's this kid. I'll copy&paste from an anonymous post I made to another gay support place a few months ago:

Sun 20/09/09 10:45

For some months earlier this year there was a young lad hanging around begging outside the local tube station. I gave him a couple of quid most days. In assorted 90-second conversations over the months, I gathered that he was supposed to live with his Dad, who was physically abusive, so he often ended up sleeping rough, and he certainly showed signs of bruising. He had the odd night visiting his Mum, who lives a long way away, but couldn't stay there very often. He claims to be sixteen, and certainly looks under 18.

I don't normally get involved with kids begging outside tubes, but this one is a bit different: he seems not to have succumbed to getting hopeless, and to be a fairly bright kid with some potential to make something of himself. I said a couple of times that I didn't want to tell him how to run his life, but that if he needed someone to go with him to Social Services or go in to bat for him he could always ask me.

Then he disappeared for a couple of months - these things happen. I assumed he had moved away, or got himself locked up: rather hoped that he had not jumped under a train as he'd had a couple of really depressed days.

Last night he was back at the tube station. He rushed up to me and gave me a hug, which is the first time we've done that. He says he's been in hospital with pneumonia ... not entirely sure that I'm convinced by this ( I reckon that he's in a situation where he does what feels he has to do and says what he feels he has to say in order to survive, so I don't judge too much). He rather proudly showed me that he has a "new toy" - a sleeping bag, so he doesn't freeze.

He's asked me to go to the Council offices with him, and I've arranged to meet him on Tuesday morning (Monday is an impossible day at work). He says that he thinks he may be able to get temporary housing - "a place of his own" - if an adult helps him. I plan to take him for a bite to eat first (if local caff will serve him), and a bit of a chat to find out more about this, and him.

I assume that he's straight (no vibes from my almost-does-not-work-at-all gaydar), so resources like the Albert Kennedy Trust probably aren't appropriate.

So, apart from "what the fuck am I getting myself into?", does anyone have any useful tips, knowledge or advice about resources available, how to deal with Council housing department and social services? Any constructive input gratefully received!


That was a while ago. Needless to say, he didn't keep the appointment - that's the way these things go. I didn't see him for a couple of weeks, and he made no reference to it. As for me, I pretty much work on the assumption that he'll tell anyone including me whatever he feels he has to in order to survive ... But it's his life, and he's old enough to make his own decisions (and, I guess, has had to make a couple of pretty tough ones ... sleeping rough, even if intermittently, can't be any fun). I've seen him every week or ten days, we've chatted, but it wouldn't be fair on him to take up valuable begging time for too long. He tells me that the police have pretty much indicated that they're getting fed up with giving warnings, and might have to start taking stronger action.

So to tonight. I was out later than normal, getting back to the tube station around 2215. He's not at the tube, but lurking at the bus-stop outside. He looks incredibly dejected - the most depressed I've ever seen him. Says he's been thrown out again, and had been hoping to see me for days (flattery gets him a long way - but I'm sure there's some truth in it). Says he's spent the last two nights sleeping rough in the doorway of the flats opposite (and it looks like it). fresh blood on his face - he says his father came looking for him to beat him up some more (I'm cynical enough to think that he probably just picks at the scab on his nose to increase the impact of his tale).

He tells me he's about 140th on the Council accomodation waiting list, that he's been to the domestic Violence unit, and that no-one seems able to do anything for him. (I don't believe much of this). He asks for my number - first time he's asked. Hiding inner debate I give it to him, he texts me, I reply. Now there's a link (scary).
Reminds me that he's HIV+ from birth (possible, but I don't beleve it: part of the sales pitch is probably more likely). Says he's so low that he agreed to go home with a guy last night, the guy turned nasty when he got cold feet in the street outside, and things could have got very difficult has a passer-by not intervened (I'm guessing something like it happened, but probably less dramatic, and probably not last night). I tell him I'm gay, and not to EVER let himself be harrased or forced into doing anything he didn't want to (yes, telling him that is a risk and scary as well).

So, as usual, he wants to get to his Mum's. He says he has just over £1, and the coach is £28. I believe he has no money - if he had, it would have been spent on food if he has any sense, or drugs (though I don't think so). So, I ask him to walk me to the cash machine. We chat for the ten-minute walk. I tell him I've been lucky, I guess, but that my own father was violently abusive at times, that I was fairly wild in my teens when it came to sex 'n drugs etc, and that while I've never slept rough for longer than three nights, I've come scarily close to it. All of which is, of course, true. At the cashpoint, he makes a point of standing where he could not possibly see my PIN number, and comments that he's doing so. I don't tell him that this card - a pre-paid Mastercard - is one I keep alongside my travel card, only ever has £50 on it, and is effectively a decoy in the event that I get mugged again or coerced: I have lived in the City for quite a while now, and do have some idea of basic survival stuff. I give him £40 - enough for some food on top of the fare (if indeed that's what he'll spend it on).

We walk back. He asks about my walking-stick, and I'm ovbiously walking more slowly and in more pain. I explain I have a fucked back, and often rely on painkillers. He asks about these in detail, about whether I'm addicted to the codeine in paracetamol&codeine, about what opiates I take when things get really dire. I tell him they'll only prescribe three days worth at a time (false, but a sensible precaution, though it's the first time I've lied to him), and I worry about addiction (true). He's clearly reacting, but I can't tell what it means. (are his parents smack-heads? in which case the HIV story becomes more probable. Or is the fact that he's lost so much weight a sign he's now taking it himself?).

And I explain that there are limits to how I can help, and as I'm too disabled to work full-time, there are times when I have no money (he already knows and accepts this). That as a gay man, I'm not gonna invite him home, or cross certain boundaries. That I appreciate his behaviour at the cashpoint, and that he has never hassled me or tried to push is luck, has always seemed pleased to chat.

We part outside the tube. Almost the last thing he says - almost throway - is "I just want a chance to start making a decent life for myself". That appears to come from the heart, that is why this kid has got to me in a way the other assorted street kids I've given assorted bits of cash to over the years never have. We hug, and I remind him that there are people in the world that care.

So now I'm sitting here, an emotional wreck, not knowing what to make of it all, where I'm coming from or where I'm going, and tears are streaming down my face. Not wracking sobs - just quiet tears.



I've re-read the above. I'm gonna press "submit". If I have regrets in the morning about doing so, I hope to God they are the only regrets I'll have from tonight.



"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King
 
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