Today was my third visit to The Porch Steppin' Stone Centre and I did the third one on one yoga session with X (I don't want to name him because I didn't ask him permission to be named).
I'm not sure how to write these blogs about series of classes, I don't want you to get bored but they are different every time! If you are interested on the other ones- how they compare to black tie balls etc. they are on this link when you click on category community classes)
Every time I meet someone who is homeless it is very humbling. Seriously, ALL OF US need to challenge our preconceptions about people who use day centres.
Today, X taught me tonnes about acupuncture and I taught him yoga. He was so frank and honest about how he got to be homeless. Which, I think, is a good step to getting out of it. X was the first chap who I have taught who was "under-the-stars-homeless" (as he described it) as some people have tents etc. He described some eye openers that niave ol' me hadn't thought about......
1) how when you are sleeping out, it's really dangerous- there are drunks (homeless and not homeless), worse. So you try to keep your eyes open for as long as possible, walking around, staying warm, smoking (cigarettes I assume). I think I have seen some people bunch together under the covered market in Oxford, and I assumed that it would be safe. Which is silly.
2) how then, you find a place to put your bags down and rest for an hour or two. then by 4am or 5am people are moving about and setting up shops, making deliveries. And you're moved on.
3) this is obviously one sided but 'people' (I read authorities) know that you are in this situation, but housing is really short and there are so many complications, so your situation trundles on for years. Years.
4) lots of people remind you of your past addictions and it counts against you.... forever. Obviously, you were not reliable, and even dangerous in the past, but it is so so hard even impossible(?) to get a clean slate.
How can you expect someone, cold and on no sleep to think straight enough to figure out their way out of the situation and push the council. They need to apply for benefits, drive, drive, drive, push, push, push to get out when they are probably also dealing with far more than hunger and cold and fatigue- I dont know. Unfortunately, not many other people know how this should work either.
Steppin stones is a way forward because people have PCs on which to do all the applications and communications, warmth, food, coffees, and now yoga.
On a less serious note, interestingly, the people I have taught have a far stronger feet for the balances than other students I have taught. We figure it is because they are walking miles and miles and miles each day.
Loving this series. I will be back on the blog in 2 short weeks for more Yoga for Homeless-People musings.