It was a pleasure to receive the excellent Stories From The Street collection in the post yesterday. Published and produced by the wonderful folks over at Herts Young Homeless, this is a collection of art created by young people who have experienced homelessness.
The stories are candid, open and honest, illuminating the paths that can lead to the streets - each individual but each reflecting in some way sadness, frustration, abuse and neglect. These stories challenge oft held perceptions of those that slip through the cracks, as Meaghaen relates;
'You observe a homeless person. Most people think that homeless people are always drug addicts or of their own demise. That's how they've found themselves in this position. It couldn't be further from the truth.'
Within these stories you will find moments and instances with which you can relate, that point towards where your own path could have taken a different turn - there but for the grace of God...
Ultimately though these are tales of hope and salvation, of finding that helping hand or that little bit of support that was required to get on to a new path - they challenge us to do better both as individuals and as a society. They also illustrate how important organisations and individuals can be including those at HYH, Shelter and similar bodies. I loved the conclusion of Shannon's Story - it's not about finding a perfect life, just a chance at making it through the imperfect one;
'You remember at the begining I said, that no matter who you are, or where you've come from, or what you are going through, you can always come out the other side? Well for dad and me that's true. It's not perfect, but we see each other, go shopping together, get a coffee, chat, sometimes about mum and try not to argue, but of course we do.'
Along with the stories there are some wonderful photos, snapshots of current hope and past tribulation - little glimpses in to lives being lived. Some are dramatic whilst others reflect joy and relief in the simplest of moments - today was a good day.
The poems included are excellent and I have already reread them a number of times. Amidst the angst and demons there is hope and strength and resilience - genuinely moving. In Reality, Kira testifies;
I shall rise from the lowest of depths
No lies are told, no secrets kept
Words not emotion have been my art
Eyes pierce my face but not my heart
Bonds that bind us may extend
I pray they not break till I reach my end
The title of this review comes from Amadou's poem Roof which encapsulates the sentiments and questions that lie within the soul of this collection;
This world is full of buildings
But there is no housing for you homeless
The night becomes an eternity when you wait for the sun
How to empty the ocean with a spoon?
You can get a print of PDF version of Stories From The Street right here, and help to support the excellent work of Herts Young Homeless. Herts Young Homeless is an independent charity which aims to prevent homelessness by empowering individuals to make positive, informed choices. Each year hyh supports young people and their families, those in crisis and individuals at risk of becoming homeless.