|Jason's anti-social behaviour order|
He was two days from getting his benefits and was planning to give them to me to look after so he wouldn't spend it all at once. The last time he received some benefits, a weeks ago, he went to his street friends and dished it all out to them. "When I've got, I give out," he said, "because that's what good people do." Of course, I urged him not to, but Jason is as Jason does.
I spoke to his rough sleepers worker and he said, "He'll get 30 days inside for breaching his ASBO." His rough sleepers worker is right when he says that Jason needs re-hab, detox, encouragement to face up to his dual addiction, face his problems, get clean, access services and all the rest and yet, the punative method of dealing with Jason clearly doesn't work. Yes, he begs. Yes, he begs to get beer or something which is apparently not as harmful as beer, but I really take issue with the police's approach to Jason and the Council's approach to Jason. It beggars belief that he should receive 30 days in jail for begging! Of course, when he is released from HMP Highdown he'll just get kicked out onto the street with 40 quid in his pocket!
His rough sleepers worker says that he has been trying desperately to house Jason but he is barred from all the hostels of Brighton, making his job all the more difficult. These hostels, all but one or two ran by the Council, remember, are owned by private landlords who just can't wait to get their hands on the poor's housing benefits and nick some more out of their income support by demanding £20 a week for 'top-up fees'. The place from where he was most recently turned away is owned by Baron Homes, a company which, according to its website, 'is committed to the City of Brighton and is working closely with the Council to satisfy the ever-growing demands of this cosmopolitan city.' By all accounts, I expect that that company is raking it in.
The rough sleepers worker says that if Jason asked for re-hab/detox then the services would kick in to help him and that he makes himself an outcast. He would be housed, he says, if he co-operated fully with the services and did what he should do. Yet, somehow, I can't help feeling that that analysis misses the mark. It suggests that the authorities are trying to bully him, force him into detox, viewing him as a social menace, but it is a choice that can only come from him. "He's not in that place yet," admits the worker. True, he is not in that place yet, but I think it is really rather cruel not to house him until he is in that place. Apart from anything else, if it gets colder he could die of hypothermia. Also, I expect that in order to go into rehab and do detox programmes you really have to have some kind of self-worth or value yourself enough to do it. That takes a great deal of love, effort and compassion on behalf of those who work with him, to even try and convince him that he is worth enough to make a better life!
As I've said before Brighton is a place of intense hedonism. Why is this draconian policy, whereby drug takers and alcoholics are forced to sleep outside in the cold, not extended to the countless students and 'professionals' who are doing cocaine, ecstacy and staying in the pub from 5.30pm to closing whenever they choose? The axe of the law falls upon the Poor.
The idea that Jason would be housed properly after detox is nice but surely naive. Relapses from rehab and periods of detoxification are common. What would the authorities do if Jason fell down again and gave into his temptations? Even if he gets clean, are all of these rogue landlords and proprietors of hostels going to say, "Jason! How wonderful to see you now that you are clean! Come on inside, we've got a bed made up especially for you!" or are they going to say, "Jason Evans? Sorry, you're barred. We know what you're like." Furthermore, exactly where would the Council place him? All of the homeless hostels in Brighton are full of drug addicts. Jason has spoken about this before.
"When you're in a hostel," he said, "you've got people banging on your door asking if you've got any gear, whether you want some gear. It becomes impossible. You can tell people to go away but they're everywhere all the time. If you want to give up you're better off outside."
Welcome to the United Kingdom. Jason Evans is evidence that as a society we never really recovered from the Reformation. He had been promised that he would be housed at New Steine Mews by the weekend. The weekend came and went and he wasn't housed even though he had filled in all the papers for it. He had been promised he would receive his benefits on Monday. Monday came and went and he hadn't received his benefits. Say a prayer for him, because I expect that right now he is just sitting in a cell dying for a beer and in urgent need of some methadone. That is his reality, right now and it doesn't take too much imagination to realise that that is not fun.
What a grave scandal it is that a poor man with addictions will do time for begging, while abortionists are free to destroy innocent life and the act of homosexuality is promoted and paraded every year down the same street on which Jason was doubtless arrested. Jason is one of society's losers in the tyranny of moral relativism embraced by this country, once called Our Lady's Dowry.