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Showing posts from February, 2018

The People in the Waiting Room

Aren’t reflections on a year always anchored by a specific episode in time? This is mine. In November I went out on a street outreach shift. By 6.30 in the morning we were at our first destination, a police station where the waiting area had become a haven for a group of people who would otherwise be sleeping on the street. The beaming desk sergeant waved us in; he knew my outreach colleague well. 

Four rough sleepers were spread out across the seats. First we spoke with a woman well known to our team who was awaiting a psychiatric assessment. Her conversation ranged erratically from her being immoderately grateful for our help to threatening us with legal action if we failed to resolve her homelessness. We updated her on progress and she once again turned down our offer of emergency accommodation. 

Next to her was a middle-aged man staring, preoccupied, into the distance. He did not respond to my outstretched hand but as my fingers brushed his wrist he grabbed my arm and I realised tha…