Down & Out in Bournemouth & Poole: Day 5: Where’s A.?

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We have wound up back at the local bed and breakfast we previously slept at, after sleeping rough for one night. The rooms here have three beds to a room, the guests renting out the rooms pay twenty pounds per person, like you would in a Victorian Flop-house. Amazingly warm and comfy, furnished with shower rooms and bathrooms, after a couple of nights on the streets it’s like paradise for many. The only problem is that it works out at £560.00 a month, the kind of money you wouldn’t normally have to hand as a single homeless person, as a couple you’re looking at having to find £1,120.00 per month, the equivalent of a mortgage payment.

Thanks to a friend I’ve enough money to pay for one or possibly two nights stay, Richard crumples visibly at the prospect of sleeping rough on Thursday night. We may have to, if as I promised, we provide A. with a night off the street. Richard doesn’t directly say he’s reluctant to sacrifice a second night at the B & B, so that A. can have a night off the street, he avoids saying it & leaves the decision up to me. It’s a wet evening and A. would appreciate the dry environment and the provision of a nourishing meal the morning after. Instead, we fail to go looking for him that night, Richard goes in search of him the following morning but doesn’t find him.

Homeless man sleeping in sleeping bag on cardboard

Places of safety on the streets? Places that are well-lit and open twenty four hours a day, have CCTV, and also an employee paid to pay attention to their environment, whilst they work. Places like Subway, for the price of a cheap roll and a cup of coffee you could probably stay awake or half-snooze there indefinitely. When I mention this to Richard he is horrified, I remind him that we had just spent a night sleeping rough four floors up from the ground floor of a car park. If anyone had been assaulted or stabbed in that environment we would have had to sprint down eight flights of stairs, then up towards the local police station, before getting help I added. Remember how irate B. was? Remember A. pocketing a pen-knife in order to deal with him on Wednesday morning? Subway sounds preferable to me in comparison to that.

I have a housing benefit claim, I will therefore be able to claim back most of the time spent at the B & B and in the next couple of days we should be able to find a brand new home. It won’t matter how palatial it is or isn’t, since our ex-landlord will have disposed of the bulk of our belongings. This will include every single literary text I will have had in my possession for the last ten years. He might be ‘persuaded’ to hold onto our belongings if we were willing to ‘negotiate’ a kind of rent for them. We can’t afford to, so everything he can’t sell will wind up on the rubbish dump I should imagine.

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