Monday, July 31, 2006

why was i homeless

I am often asked the question, HOW DID I BECOME HOMELESS? And each time I am asked I seem to give a different reply. Its not that I make it up as I go along or I lie about it, the fact is there was not one thing that led to me being homeless, it was a combination of factors and each was as responsible as the other.

In my other blogs I have written about various aspects of my life, and my childhood in particular. I guess this is where the grounding came in and this was the platform from where my life has evolved. Being raised in the main in the care system I wasn’t afforded the same luxury as most when I hit difficulties, I couldn’t return home when I found myself out of work, or down on my luck. The care system was cut off from my reach as soon as I hit 18 and from that point I found myself totally alone with no support network.

I found out quite early that life on the streets often gave me things that I lacked in the rest of my life. I was able to find food and companionship in other homeless people and although I still felt very alone, I was with other people who were alone too. There was some comfort in that.

I never made a conscious effort to keep returning to the streets, it just happened. I am to blame as well though. I didn’t seek the help that I needed to get back on track. I was afraid of the system that for so long had been responsible for my care and felt unable to engage with them. I have likened it to the school bully, after all you wouldn’t go to them for help in fact you would avoid them at all costs. That was how it felt for me I needed to avoid them at all costs.

It was only when I had been through the system through default that I realised that I should have taken that route in the first place.

Becoming settled, like I am now has a lot to do with the kind of things that I avoided in the past. I sought help with a psychiatrist even though I was forced controlling drugs in a unit by one as a 12 year old. I stayed in a hostel where my movements were restricted like it had been in many of the children’s homes that I had been in (and also prison although not so harshly) I saw a doctor who helped me access the things that I needed even though I had been turned away from many surgeries in the past and had never really dealt with the way I coped with rejection. I learnt to let go of my anger through a series of management classes, anger which I had used to protect myself but which also I had used to keep others at bay.

But I am not unique! Many of the homeless you see on the street will have endured the same as me. I was lucky I managed to break that cycle of homelessness, but like I said it was by default. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time in the right frame of mind. If all these elements had not been there I may well have still been sleeping rough, taking a cocktail of substances just to get through the day and block out the hurt. Or worse still I could and possibly would have been dead.

So when in future I’m asked how I became homeless, I think I will just answer ‘I never threw a six to start’

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Healthcare for all, YEAH RIGHT!

How you feeling today? Good I hope, if not then you might want to see your doctor. For most of you the visit to a doctor isn’t very pleasant, but at least it’s tolerable. You have possibly been seeing the same one for many years and your family have been seeing him/her for even longer. Your children have all grown up knowing the rounded face peering down at them in times of pain. They slowly realise that the pushing and prodding is going to help them in the end. Then, as parents themselves, can share a joke with the ‘quack’ as take their own screaming infant into the surgery.

That’s all be about to change for some of the people of Watford, Hertfordshire because of a decision by the local PCT (primary Care Trust) that’s the government body who hold the purse strings to you and me, to close down a specialist practice assisting homeless people in the area.

Let me enlighten you further. In 2003, after multi-agency consultation it was agreed that a specialist medical practice was needed to cater for the needs of homeless people in the Watford area. Local doctors and care professionals agreed that the needs of the homeless were not being met by the service available at the time.

The Meadowell Centre was born.

Everything was ticking along quite nicely until last year. Firstly they suspend without giving adequate reasons the GP1, (GP1= General Practitioner (1)) then they create a forum to discuss the possible closure of this centre.

During this process they claimed that this specialist practice, which caters for the health needs 300 homeless people, is financially unviable. They also stated that that the needs of this group can and will be met by general practices. They said this despite the fact the doctors in these practices say they do not have the necessary resources to cope with the multitude of problems that a homeless person will present with.

A two day event in November came to the conclusion that there is still a need for this service and that rather than close it down other avenues would be explored to ensure its survival.

Now some 6 months later the PCT claim that the service is no longer needed. They claim the prescribing of opiate substitutes could be met by the community drug and alcohol team (CDAT) CDAT have not been consulted by the PCT regarding the closure of this project and whether they will be able to cope, nor have the patients at the Meadowell Centre, or the doctors and patients at the surgeries expected to take up the slack.

They also state that the needs of mentally ill patients can be met elsewhere even though the 40 plus patients with mental health problems make up quite a chunk of the numbers being treated by the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team).

In addition they are ignoring the difficulties faced by homeless people when it comes to registering with doctors.

So it would appear that this all boils down to money.

Its very easy maths, homeless addicts need treatment, no treatment equals more street drugs. More street drugs equals more medium to high crime to fund street drugs. More police, more victims all leading to more and more cost.


The PCT are saying that the general public do not need to be asked whether they feel that they would be willing to share their doctors with people with such high needs. They are not being asked whether they feel that it is appropriate to take their own children to the doctors where someone who may be drunk, high on drugs or experiencing mental illness is in the waiting room. They are not being asked whether they could cope with sharing their doctors with this client group, or being informed about the difficulties that will arise when a homeless client presents at the surgery.

The local A&E has not been consulted in regards to the fact that if a homeless person visits the department what they will do or how they will cope.

The PCT have taken it upon themselves to go for a cost cutting exercise that will have a major impact on the health care provision in the local area.

This project was opened in 2003 following the consultation and again in November 2005 it was agreed that there was still a need for this project, what has changed in 6 months?

Homeless people, like everyone else have a right to health care. Health care that meets their needs. Face it, would you go to a general practice for a broken bone, NO you wouldn’t, you would go to a doctor who specialises in this field. So why are homeless people who have special needs expected to go to a surgery that cannot cater for the problems they have.

The fact is that this surgery offers health care to those in need, but also enables this care to be provided without causing difficulties to mainstream practices. If this project is to close the catastrophic knock on effect will impact on everyone.

Its time that the PCT accept that they have a duty of care to all patients and realise that the decisions they make have an impact on everyone. THEREFORE its time they listened and stopped acting with complete disregard for the people that are responsible for.

Stan B
alias thepitseapirate

ps. I was homeless in Watford when I was released from the section (read my other blogs) I still needed health care. The Meadowell was the only practice that would register me! Most just said no room at the inn, the others pointed me to the Meadowell centre. I can stand up on my own most of the times now because I engaged. I got the health care I deserved and needed.


Times may have changed but there is still very little room at the inn for the homeless.

Thank GOD for the Meadowell

Monday, July 24, 2006


Hopefully you have read through some of my other blogs, and I guess that it would come as no surprise that I haven’t really got much of a work history. Living the nomadic lifestyle that I have and suffering many, often lengthy periods of depression, has meant that I have spent a considerable amount time shuffling from one place to another. But despite this I have still done some impressive stuff.

Some of my better achievements are these.

I wrote and narrated the hit radio series ‘Letters from the streets’. This was repeated due to popular demand and awarded slots on both ‘pick of the week’ and ‘pick of the year’ on radio 4. Not bad since I wrote the rough drafts on paper bags and McDonalds napkins. I have been a regular contributor for various media agencies since. I have commentated not only on homelessness but, also on art and television reviews, sport, the care system and fostering and adoption law changes among the long list of topics which I have an in-depth knowledge of.

Prior to the ’97 general election I was part of the team that launched the alternative manifesto for homeless people demanding basic rights such as 24 hour toilet and washing facilities, free access to doctors surgeries who would often decline health care because of the No Fixed Abode status. And anti discrimination laws that would mean employers would have the same rules for homeless people as they do for ethnic groups and the disabled.

Along with a small group of other homeless people ran a campaign to halt the closure programme of hostels funded under the rough sleepers initiative phase one. The final part of this was a march through London and a memorial service in Trafalgar Square celebrating the lives of those who had died as a direct result of sleeping rough. As part of this we released black balloons into the sky and managed to halt all air traffic in the south east legally. Finally I did a talk in front of about 1000 people some of who didn’t take part in the demo but were in the square at the time. We hit the front page of almost every national newspaper as well as national and international television and radio programmes.

I have offered my extensive insight into homeless, poverty, and social exclusion for a project called HAHA, in conjunction with the Workshop development unit based at the University of Hertfordshire. I provide high quality presentations on the need for dual diagnosis by service providers. This basically means that the providers look at the needs of the client in its entirety, offering a more joined up process for the delivery of care packages

Even when I was in prison I felt I had something to offer, I assisted with the ESOL (English as a second language) classes. Not only did this cover English but basic maths too.

I have assisted in providing lectures for some schools on the subject of homelessness as part of the citizenship classes. This forms of the National Curriculum.

My latest venture is proposing the implementation of a user led service aimed at getting homeless and marginalised people to take more control of their own care and creating a mechanism which empowers this group and makes them less dependent on the system as a result. I presented this to Watford Borough Council and a number of service providers. I received a mass of positives but the downside it appeared to them that a project of this magnitude would need to be a national one as there is so much to it and funding at local level is very limited.

If you would like a read a copy then email me and I will email back one to you.

But as I have said there have been periods of my life when just getting from day to day was all I could do. But after long sessions of counselling and personal development I have reached the stage where I can maintain this good stuff. And now all I really need to complete the next level of my own journey is a job.

I have so many experiences that are going to waste and given the chance I can offer so much to an employer. Somewhere along the line it will happen and I will fulfil the potential that I have been developing over the past few years.

I would be willing to do some volunteering for a while to fully show my potential but it would need to be with a view to getting employed. I have done a fair amount of volunteering in the past but it seems that although someone like me can offer lots to an agency for free when it comes to paying for it they snub the idea. This can in itself lead to despondency.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


The winding road through the grounds of an old Victorian psychiatric hospital held little insight into the horrors behind the locked windows and doors.

Hill End adolescent unit, St Albans, Hertfordshire, was a specialist social services run project for kids who had reached the end of the road as for as the system was concerned. I was placed there because I was constantly on the run and full of rage after being sexually abused. The first day I went there I was accompanied by the police. I had been on the run for a while and after being found it was decided that I couldn’t return to the place I had run from. It was the seventeenth time in two years that I had been moved and this was to remain my home for the next 6 months or so.
The H shaped building had a large open planned room on the ground floor and separate sleeping quarters on the upper floor divided by a staff room to keep the boys and girls apart. This area doubled up as a therapy room. Although if you can call sitting there ignoring everyone in the room therapy.

Reception period was where everyone gathered in the downstairs room and introductions were made. I arrived on the same day as a slightly built black guy. He had been in Shenley hospital under a section and was so full of drugs he could hardly sit straight on the chair. He ignored the questions being asked because he was doped up to the eyeballs, I did because I couldn’t be bothered. We were both dragged off and sedated for breaking the rules. I guess it was the next day when I came to and again was forced to sit through this kangaroo court until I answered the questions.

My mouth was dry and my legs and arms felt heavy. I remember being offered the chance to ingest the sedative, after refusing I was forcefully injected. The bruise lasted for more than a week and even after I had fully recovered from the drugs I still could feel the pain of the needle.

I was 12 years old.
Over the next 6 months I had again started running off and found more and more innovative ways of avoiding being caught. I began to run back to my abuser as I had nowhere else to go. This is the most difficult part I had to deal with, why when I knew what was happening and knew that it was wrong did I keep returning? The booze, drugs and solvents seemed to work and when I was returned to unit the money and gifts I had been given proved to be enough to buy off the bullies for a while. But no sooner had the sedatives worn off and the goodies been distributed I was off again. The merry-go-round of my childhood continued.

Throughout my life I have been full of fear of the system and it took a long time to begin to relate to anyone who could help me deal with my issues. It was only after going to prison and breaking down so much that I took a massive overdose that things changed for me. Before that I had hurt many people and destroyed most things in my life. The fallout from my childhood has impacted on other people in my life and I want to say now that I am truly sorry. I never intentionally did this and because I could never explain what was going on inside me most people never understood. And when I wasn’t damaging relationships I was self harming. Looking back it must have been hard on those around me to come to terms with this and I don’t blame them for not sticking around.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


This may seem a little strange at first but as a survivor of sexual abuse in childhood I feel that I cannot lend my support to the proposed Sarah’s law. I have very good reasons for this and I will share them with you.

Firstly, as important as a law such as this may seem, I really don’t feel that it will do anything except drive these sexual predators even further underground. This will make it more difficult to keep tabs on them and control their movements. Recently published photographs of two paedophiles filming children in a park, clearly show, that they have an ability to evade those who are supposed to monitoring them. It seems that it is being left to the media to draw attention to these offenders and to put a halt to their vile behaviour.

So how will any expansion of this type of monitoring fare any differently? The aim of ‘Sarah’s Law’ will be to allow the general public access to information to know who these sex offenders are and where they live! What happens if they get the information wrong? Someone’s life could be ruined just because they look similar to a known sex offender. The part of the proposed law which would please me is making life as difficult as possible for the sex offender, but this should be the role of the judicial system and not the general public. Further to this I feel that to create such a law will continue to give that legal system the get out clauses it currently exploits.

The system in place already gives the opportunity for judges to pass small sentences in the knowledge that they can somehow compensate this by ordering the inclusion on the sex offenders register. Local authorities and police forces across the country already have access to this register, so how will public access to this ensure that the information is shared more effectively?

Findings show, that there are failings in the tracking and supervising of known sex offenders, and these failings have been highlighted by various daily and Sunday newspapers. It is claimed in a recent report that 97% of released paedophiles conform to sex offenders rules, in America where a similar law to the one proposed (Megan’s Law) is in place this figure is down to 80%. That’s a full 20% of sex cases running around unsupervised.

Another reason I feel that I cannot offer my support to this law is because of my own actions later in life. I went looking for my abuser. Armed with a sharp, heavy weapon my intention was to cause him serious damage. I made it as far as the front door of the house where the abuse had taken place. If it had not been for the fact that a woman came to answer it, I would be writing this from a prison cell. Did my abuser really deserve to ruin my life any more than he has already? NO! And he/she would not deserve to destroy that child’s life anymore by them losing a parent to prison because of a fit of rage. There wouldn’t be a parent in the country who wouldn’t want to seek revenge for their child and the legal system has proven unsympathetic in cases where a parent, relative or friend has taken revenge.

There is also a call for chemical castration, a call which apparently is being discussed by the Home Secretary, in my opinion this will do very little to cure the problem. The large bulk of the abuse I suffered was psychological. Castration would not have stopped this. Sure it would have stopped the perpetrator from fulfilling the physical element of sexual gratification but nothing in regards to the mental factor. Sexual abuse is both physical and mental.

Now what is really needed is a one strike and you're out law. If someone is found guilty of a sexual crime, especially one against a child, then the penalty should reflect the damage caused. Most victims will never truly recover from the experience and therefore the sentence they are given is one of life. The penalty therefore should be life without the chance of parole. Bearing in mind that almost 70% of all paedophiles will have abused between 10 and 450 victims, the current penalties do not reflect this. The rest, 30% will have abused between 1 and 10 victims. Whether it is one victim or more the distress will be something that is carried throughout the victim’s entire life, surely the penal system should reflect this.

If the system wants to do something that is really going to leave a legacy which honours the memory of Sarah Payne and the others who have either died, or been left scarred by sexual abuse then,

1. Start by giving sentences that mirror the crime.
2. Begin a programme of physical awareness classes to all school age children. Ensure that this includes lessons on proper and improper contact with an adult.
3. Introduce free classes for parents who have difficulty in talking to their children about sexual issues, don’t keep leaving it to strangers and peer pressure to do the job.
4. Stop thinking foolishly that sex offenders can be rehabilitated, look at the statistics of re-offending and take that into consideration when sentencing.
5. Tighten up on internet laws so that paedophiles cannot keep using it as a source of information and a platform to share their filth.
6. Create an international code that is effective in tracking paedophiles to make it more difficult for them to escape justice by moving country.
7. offer a greater level of support mechanisms to victims of sexual crime and finally


Facts about paedophiles and paedophilia:

1. 70% of sex attackers will have abused between 10 and 450 victims, the rest 30% will have targeted between 1 and 10.

2. 66% of paedophiles are known to their victims, only 34% are strangers.

3. 24,572 people were on the sex offenders register in the year 2003/4 this increased by 18% to nearly 29,000 in 2004/5. Although it is difficult to ascertain how many of these are for offences against a minor. It is also not possible to quote figures for offenders committing crimes before 1997 as these figures are not included as the register was not retrospective.

4. Between 1980 and 2001 there were almost 70,000 reported crimes of gross indecency or sexual intercourse with a female child. The actual amount of sexual abuse cases are difficult to cover as most acts of sexual abuse go un-reported; some studies have put this figure as high as 95%.

5. The internet has become a tool for paedophiles sharing information between each other. Arrest figures for offences relating to abusive images rose from in (549)2001 to (2,234) in 2003.
6. Sex offenders will abuse a number of times prior to arrest. Some surveys will have this figure up to fourteen.








Monday, July 17, 2006

snowballers welcome?

Some of you may not be able to relate to anything I write. some others could write my blog themselves. But I need to do this.


I was once told that poetry can be great therapy, so can shopping. So here is a little poem which combines the two.

The simple things in life are free
The higher the cost the greater the fee
But balance what you can spend
Or you’ll be broke by the end

July 2006

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Time to change the rules on football management!

As an avid football fan I have just had to endure yet another quarter final exit on penalties in a major competition. But I am not going to write about that, or the bad run of luck England seem to get during this decisive period of a game. No that’s not what irks me today. I am going put down a few words about the running of football by greedy managers. I feel that enough is enough and managers of football teams need to be brought into line like the rest of us.

Scenario one: I apply and am successful in getting a new job where my performance will affect the position of the company. I accept that it is vital to the future of that company to perform well and ensure that I hit the targets which reflect this situation.

After a few months I am not doing what is asked of me, I have failed to meet the standards which have been set and this reflects on the company. What happens now? The fact is I will be sacked or asked to leave. Either way I will be removed from my post and a more suitable employee will be sought. If I am lucky I will be paid to the end of the month but more often than not I will be dismissed without further notice.

The same cannot be said about football management.

Scenario two: I get a job running a football team, after a few weeks the new players that have bought in are rubbish. The clubs wage bill has more than doubled and because of poor results attendance numbers have fallen drastically. Financially the decisions I am making are a disaster. What happens now? I will be sacked like any other under achiever but the difference being that I don’t mind. I will continue to receive my pay, and possibly even a great golden handshake. Free to enjoy my life to the fullest. I don’t have to worry about paying bills as the deal I have will mean that I will be financially secure, Even if the club I was working for could ‘go to the wall’ because of me.

Simple outcome could be:
If you are not doing your job in football then you should expect to receive a size 12 right up the arse. We should get rid of the greedy under achievers and hangers on who are slowly pricing the general public out of the game and move back towards the jumpers for goalposts type of football we all enjoyed as kids.