The prophets of the Old Testament were not the Russell Grant of their time, making predictions for the future of your love life, romance, body and soul. No, they told the truth, no matter how uncomfortable, and no matter whose wrath they might incur. In today’s media-frenzy world, we have many people willing to express their opinions on a whole range of subjects whether or not anyone ins interested! I include myself amongst their number. But those speaking with originality and in an unfearing manner are few and far between.
Every now and again I am lucky enough to come across someone who is truly prohetic, in the true sense of the word. Jeremy Swain, Chief Executive of the homelessness charity Thames Reach, is one. He has one of the most original minds of anyone I know. His views are rarely conventional, always challenging, sometimes shocking. But he retains a clear focus on what is right for clients.
His column in last week’s Inside Housing is a good example. He challenges the mantra that “anyone can become homeless” by pointing out that “a typical rough sleeper will often have experienced dysfunctional family relationships, experienced a disrupted education, had early experience of the criminal justice system, misused alcohol or drugs and suffer from low self-esteem and poor mental health”. He reflects that the businessman who earnestly states that “any of us could become homeless and that we are all just two pay cheques away from homelessness” may have admirable intentions but “let’s be honest, those cufflinks alone would have cost four weeks’ of jobseeker’s allowance”.
Jeremy is right. Someone from my class background, with my economic circumstances, with my support network, with the absence of alcohol and drug problems and of mental health problems, is unlikely in the extreme to find himself homeless. The bottom line is I do not experience poverty, financial, emotional or social.