It must be Christmas â guilt inducing adverts and press releases have increased dramatically.
In between Fedosi starving in the arms of her well fed Mother, (only Â£2 a month) and saving Ayesha from marrying at an age which would not be legal in the UK (quite expensive) and Sanaa, paraded hourly in all her hare-lipped glory for us to recoil from and reach for our cheque books, we learn this morning that we, and our reluctance to dig deep, are the sole reason that âBen and Mattâ are homeless and are likely to die at a mere 47 years old.
âBenâ, 25 years old and begging on the streets of London âlostâ his family. We are not told how, though I suspect if it was through accident rather than negligence we would have been treated to the full details. It is only the âlossâ of his family that resulted in Ben begging for handouts in a street doorway. We can put this right, we can be Benâs family and put a roof over his head. Are we not a community? Are we not duty bound to step in where Benâs family have so miserably failed to support this fine young man at sucgh a tender age? Hmmn.
Then there is âMattâ. âMattâ lost his council accommodation. Misplaced? Put somewhere safe and couldnât remember where it was? Was there no friend to help him search for it again? I presume, though we are not told, that Matt also managed to âloseâ the wife and children that had enabled him to qualify for council accommodation in the first place â have we not just been told that social housing is not available for the single man? No matter, it is not Mattâs responsibility, at Christmas it is ours to give generously and put a roof over Mattâs head.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: âIt is shocking â¦ homeless people are dying much younger than the general population. Life on the streets is harsh and the stress of being homeless is clearly taking its toll. This report paints a bleak picture of the consequences homelessness has on peopleâs health and wellbeing. Ultimately, it shows that homelessness is killing people.â
Killing people? I must give money quickly. What does Crisis do with my money?
Three young ladies trip down the road, part of the army of 10,000 volunteers, to give Matt and Ben a sandwich each and a cup of tea. They even have to assist in unwrapping the sandwich for themâ¦no, Ben and Matt are not one armed service veterans, itâs just that they are both chain smoking and obviously canât be expected to put down the cigarette they prioritised over food in order to unwrap our generosity. Perhaps there is another Charity that provides cigarettes for the homeless. As a smoker myself, Iâd be glad of the address if you know it. Iâve always had to buy food ahead of cigarettes in order to keep myself alive to work for the cigarettes.
Before I reached for my cheque book to give Matt and Ben what they deserve â how could I think of feeding myself when these poor mites were sleeping in shop doorways and likely to die at 47? â I took a look at Crisis at Christmas to see what they had done with the 14 million quid we gave them last yearâ¦..
First of all they had to give 2 million quid back to David Gilmour. You know, the rock star, sold his house in Holland Park and gave all the money to Shelter, famous for helping the homeless, yes, him. That wasnât the sum total of what he had given Crisis, it was the amount they had agreed to give back because they never did get round to building the shelter in the Elephant and Castle that Matt and Ben could have lain their weary heads in. That must have been an interesting negotiation. I wonder if I can get my tenner back?
Then they gave 5.3 million quid to the army of âfundraisersâ, all those people who host art gallery openings and balls in London hotels and the like.
They gave 233 homeless people Â£2,500 each to change their lives. Unfortunately they donât know what they did with it, because the 14 million quid we gave them didnât stretch to figuring out what happens when you give a person of no fixed abode 2,500 quid to change his lifeâ¦..no really, I am not making it up, its all there in the accounts.
Crisis Changing Lives programme continued to grow, with 233 grants of up to Â£2,500 awarded to homeless people across the UK. totalling Â£220,000 We awarded 18 more Crisis Changing Lives grants than our target and average awards were higher than anticipated. The number of people we know of who progressed into paid employment was significantly below our target as unfortunately limited resources didnât allow us to chase up the outcomes of all previous grant recipients.
Itâs not all doom and gloom though â one of the previous years recipients of 2,500 quid grew wheatgrass with itâ¦
We were delighted, however, to learn that a previous award recipient â Brian Chamberlin â has now won contracts to supply his wheatgrass to major high street chain Lush.
Did they use the money to put a roof over anybodyâs head though? Well, yes, with a little help from their friends at Dolphin Squareâ¦
Crisis, in partnership with the Dolphin Square Foundation, also directly funds and supports Westminster SmartMove. This helped 60 homeless people to move into their own accommodation.
I make that around Â£100,000 a head â perhaps they could have found cheaper accommodation outside London, after all, Ben mislaid his family somewhere in Birmingham, he doesnât have any ties in London other than that shop doorway.
They did spend a lot of time and money âempire buildingâ running training courses, teaching local authorities how to put a roof over someoneâs head, and lobbying MPs for more funds.
This year we expanded our national advisory service in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Scottish Government, assisting local authorities and voluntary sector agencies to develop new services to help homeless people find and keep a home in the private rented sector (PRS).
They spend a huge proportion of their income working âin partnershipâ with local authorities providing âeducationâ and âsupportâ to people who havenât worked for years. A noble aim â but arenât there already a number of commercial companies getting a âbountyâ for getting people back into work? Fair play to them, they managed to help 195 people to get a job. This includes, according to their accounts:
People from the 10 countries of Eastern Europe that joined the European Union since 2004 have unfortunately formed a growing proportion of the homeless population when their employment has ended or work did not materialise in the first place. The majority of them still want to work and with funding from the Oak Foundation Crisis established a specialist programme. We have met with 128 clients and supported 58 of these into employment.
Oh dear, sympathy is running very low â I started off feeling totally guilty thanks to their press release about Matt and Ben sleeping in a doorway and now find that Iâm donating money to get Polish plumbers back in work, and pay society hostesses for inviting their friends round for a shindig, and giving Charlie Gilmourâs Dad his money back â¦
And this isnât even a âfake charityâ. Itâll have to be Sanaaâs hare lip then, at least I can feel decently guilty about that.