Saturday, June 13, 2020

We talked mostly about his three months living alone in a Tower Block rubbish chute.

I was talking with a young man aged 22.  
He’s been living in the YMCA for four weeks,
previously he was living alone,
homeless, for three months.

For the whole of that time he was alone and slept in a rubbish chute in a tower block.  

It was the warmest place for him, that’s where he felt comfortable, that’s where he was secure.
He came from a ‘CARE” - 

a childcare background.  
His parents had rejected him when he was 2 years old. 
He was quietly spoken and gentle in his mannerisms, 
not hostile in any way.  
When I asked him if he had any relatives, 
he said yes, but he didn’t want anything to do with them.  
He didn’t mention his foster parents as being his 'relatives' in any way.  
He was warm, authentic, pleasant, cool, but not cold in his responses to me.  
Several times when I sat alongside him in the YMCA dining room having some food together, 
I asked whether he minded if I asked him questions, and he didn’t, 
so we chatted away a number of times. 

He was honest.  
He was willing to answer questions openly with authenticity without embarrassment. 
I asked him all sorts of questions, more and more detail as time went on, 
checking every now and again 
whether he was happy to answer questions with me just throwing them at him.

We talked mostly about his three months living alone in the rubbish chute. 
The whole experience and his thought processes during that experience.

I asked him what his prized possession was while he was on his own and, 
- he thought for a while.  
I asked him if it was it the watch he wore?  
I asked him if it was his T Shirt or some possession?  
He said it was his sleeping bag.
The worst thing which had ever happened to him, he told me, 
was when his sleeping bag and all his clothes got nicked.

He used to wash sometimes in the town centre precinct toilets. 
When he was on a tube train people used to move away from him 
when he sat down next to them.  
He used to get a little bit of money by begging; 
maximum in a day would be about £5.  
When he plucked up courage to go to the Housing Department for help, 
…………. he was given a leaflet.

 How did you eat, I asked, how did you survive? 
He begged!   
With that income he was able to buy but 
other times he went to Sainsbury’s Supermarket 
and nicked food to live. 
Was he ever caught? I asked. 
Yes.  But they let him off.

One of the kindest things he talked about was one morning when he was still asleep 
someone came and threw a big black bag of rubbish  down the chute and over him. 
When the person realised what had happened he apologised for having doused him with rubbish.  
As well as an apology he said that for him not to worry that he wouldn’t report him. 
That was considered the only act of kindness he experienced in three months.

Living in the YMCA now for him is positive, 
he expressed this gently with no enthusiasm 
but in a real calculated way. 
He said that he attended the Foyer Resources, 
the training unit we have in the YMCA 
to assist such youngsters to become equipped for the future. 
While I was talking to him one of our young women residents, 
who herself had had all sorts of 
problems in her past - and even now, 
came over and whispered to him, 
gave him a little cuddle and said 
“If you want to talk to me you know where I am” 
and walked away. 

Here in this community he’s been accepted and loved. 
For him this is a non-threatening gentle community 
where he’s been built up and encouraged.

In the future he wants to get a job in the catering trade in London. 
He’s well prepared to travel into London and do 
the most basic low paid menial task to get into regular work, 
which is very encouraging.




All these experiences – vivid encounters, 
give me feelings – right to the heart  - 
right in the soul where growth resides.
I want to feel and disclose feelings.
Unless I disclose my feelings to you
You don't know me
you only know my activity
you only read my body language
you only feel me through the clicking of distant keys
I want to disclose - it is good for me
it is good for our relationship 
sometimes I will be sad, 
frustrated, lonely, hurt, failing ......
amongst the golden stuff
when I tell you I hurt
that does not mean I am destroyed and lame
it means I am stretching my sensitivity to my interior
and not being an exterior human - only.

This is an extract from my book:: 
If I could get you to read ONE book of mine
it would be the one with
60 years of my journey in it.
called Gutter Feelings 
- the 2012 edition.