Some thoughts I had while watching BBC’s Girls Sleeping Rough documentaries

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting flicking through YouTube when it through up a recommendation for what I assumed was  a segment of an episode of a documentary. As it transpired, it was the whole episode and YouTube appeared to home the a couple of series of it (all apparently uploaded by the BBC, so it’s legit). I ended up binge watching all of the available episodes in two nights (a common theme in my life, I am aware). Regardless of your thoughts on TV licensing, the BBC can turn out some really good British content and this definitely fitted that bill.

The documentary – at least, I’m going to call it a documentary as I’m not sure what else you would call it – tracked the lives of women who were living homeless on the streets of Brighton in England. Women with different stories, different reasons for finding themselves on the streets, different experiences and outlooks. Women who are fighting and women who feel utterly defeated.

While watching all of these episodes, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind and I thought I’d share some of them with you…

  • This is such a shame. This is absolutely heart breaking. I am absolutely just want to give these women a giant cuddle. Except maybe her, because you know what she doesn’t really seem to want to help herself and even with my innate need to see the good in people I’m struggling to feel sorry for her.
  • Life is really freaking fragile.
  • How can the film crew stand there and film someone injecting drugs and not intervene?
  • How can people be so cruel? How can people assault somebody who is living rough (or, to be quite honest, how can you justify assaulting anybody regardless of their situation)? How can a human being just walk past another human being who is keeping to themselves, sitting or even sleeping in a doorway, and think that it is their duty to just kick them in the face repeatedly?
  • These women are actually incredible, and some of them are quite frankly kinda awe inspiring. Not in their stories, but in their resilience, determination and kindness.
  • Why can we not house people together? Every time one of them finally gets somewhere to stay there always seems to be strict rules that it is a single person tenancy, meaning that not only do they find their new bed lonely (because they’re so used to being surrounded by people on the streets) many of them are also riddled with guilt at leaving friends, peers, or loved ones on the streets and this is essentially why so many of them seem to end up back there. Surely to house two people, even in a small place, would be better for everybody?
  • I wonder how she’s doing now.
  • We need more centres, or something, that are willing to work as addresses for homeless people while they try to find their feet. Without an address homeless people struggle to apply for jobs, for bank accounts, for benefits, for property – it just seems to be an endless cycle of us not helping people who need help.
  • Is there really not more that the government/national services can do, especially for the ones who really want to turn their lives around?
  • If they can identify that so many of the people – men and women alike – who are finding themselves on the streets have a background in the care system, why are they not providing more support at that stage to prevent it reaching this stage?
  • I don’t know if I could cope with being homeless.
  • Why do women still require men for ‘protection’, and why do people give more generously to women? Why does feminism successes not extend to homelessness?
  • Are interviews really necessary to decide who gets help? Do we not want to help everyone? Is holding somebody’s past against them really helpful? How exactly do you decide who is more deserving of support?
  • What kind of support is there in place for people who move here from other countries and find themselves homeless? Is it the same or different?
  • I never thought about that before (in relation to a lot of things).

*I realise that a lot of the time when I say “why” the answer relates to funding, or there is a similarly ‘logical’ answer, but it doesn’t stop us as humans wondering why we can’t do more for our fellow humans.

If you’d like to watch Girls Sleeping Rough on YouTube, you can do so here.

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