Down And Out: Notes From The Gutter
By Matthew Small
Published by Paperbooks, Oct 1st, 2015
This is an impassioned, timely and intriguing book; Matthew Small examines the many reasons how - and sometimes why - people become homeless, destitute or just are simply struggling to manage on a low income, and what can and is being done to support and help them.
Bath is a tourist spot, apparently affluent, yet there are substantial numbers of people who are homeless. Some are simply financially challenged, others have problems with addiction or mental illness.There are shelters, but not enough, and not everyone can afford the cost; many do not feel comfortable there either. There are soup kitchens, charities and a very busy Foodbank and Foodcycle operating from churches, but is this the right way to go about helping the vulnerable? Does it cause almost as many problems as it solves? Opinions are quite sharply divided, and Matthew examines all aspects of this complex issue.
He also leaves Britain to look at poverty in India and then onto Nepal, both countries where life is very different to Britain. Cities such as Mumbai have their fair share of people flocking there hoping for a better job, a better life, only to find things are just as hard there, with no Indian government support outside of state hospitals and schools. He visits a slum in Mumbai, and sees people who believe that sending children out to beg - and therefore earn - is seen as more important than sending them to school. His visit to a leper hospital, where yes, there are still people being treated for leprosy, shows him that there are people and communities trying to help the disadvantaged, missionary religious orders especially so in a society where caste discrimination remains a real problem. Despite their poverty, there seems to be far greater happiness than in Britain.
Well worth reading.