Around 90% of ‘street homeless’ people are men. It’s a scandal that in one of the richest countries on the planet, street homelessness exists. The average age of death of a homeless person is 43, compared with a life expectancy for non-homeless people of 73 years.
Two days ago, after parking in a car park, I walked towards the town centre. On the way a poorly-dressed and sad-looking man who I took to be roughly my own age (57) stopped me, and said:
Excuse me, sir, do you have a pound for a homeless man?
As it happened, I had no money on me, so I explained my position and apologised for not being able to give him anything. He thanked me, and went on his way.
Once in town, I drew some money from an ATM, with a view to giving him £5 if I were to see him again. Walking back to the car, I heard a very loud commotion emanating from a BT phone booth. It was the homeless man, smashing the phone into the sides of the booth, against the machine, and howling – HOWLING – with rage and pain. I have never in my life witnessed such an expression of extreme rage and pain. In his tirade I caught this:
Even if I were dying, I couldn’t f***ing call anybody!!!
It was then that I decided I won’t just campaign on men’s issues until the 2030 general election – when I’ll be 72 – but for as long as I have the health and strength to carry on.
I related the story of the homeless man in the course of a 30-minute radio interview this morning, and only just managed to hold back tears. Damn the state which consigns so many men to such appalling circumstances.