Friday, November 30, 2012

A sad story that might be a wake-up call

So, it turns out that the young woman who died when a tree fell on her tent in the recent storms, was a rough sleeper, known to people in Exeter, but struggling to find a place in so-called 'regular' society.

Her tragic death highlights the plight of those who for a variety of reasons - and Michelle Conroy (for she had a name) had no addiction problems, being known by a night cafe run for the homeless as the 'orange squash girl' - cannot find anything approaching settled accommodation.

I'm pleased that our church will be joining with others this winter to provide a night shelter for the rough sleepers in our area. I know this is just a tiny bit of the answer to the massive problem of homelessness in our society; but it's good to be part of the offer of help.

Michelle Conroy died in a city that has no permanent drop in hostel for rough sleepers, the kind of place she could have been encouraged to go when the forecast for the night she died was known. Bromley, similarly, has no permanent drop-in hostel either; the 90 day temporary shelter is all that's on offer in the borough.

Conroy's story is desperately sad. But I wonder how many more there are like her, balancing precariously on the edge of life, passing by unnoticed by those of us lucky enough to have a roof over our head, money in our pocket and a social safety net that gives us that treasured sense of belonging that she apparently lacked.

There are lots of headlines about how much everything costs, about how we cannot afford to take care of everyone, that people ave to stand on their own two feet. There aren't enough headlines about how society hangs together by the bonds of common affection and decency.

If anyone wants to get involved in our night shelter, then come to the Town Church at 3pm on 8 December; there's a whole range of things you could be doing.

No comments: