Tag Archives: homeless

Reflections on poverty and a multicultural visit


I’ve been very fortunate this week to visit Prague as part of a business trip. Business was concluded early so I’ve had a bit of time to kill while waiting for my flight home. I came here last year with Dee and we both fell in love with the place. It’s not been the same without her, not quite as good, but it’s an enchanting city all the same. 
I’ve walked up to the castle, around the various buildings there and then back into the Old Town via the Charles Bridge. The views from the castle were superb, as were the sights while there. I’m now sitting in one of the main squares sipping iced tea, watching the world go by, and a number of things have struck me about this visit.

There seem to be fewer people begging this year. They kneel, elbows and head on the ground, with cups or hats outstretched, and don’t make a sound. Most of the streets are cobbled and it can’t be comfortable. Whether this is to encourage them to feel shame, to punish them for begging, or to prevent too many people doing it, you can’t help but feel for these people. 

It’s impossible to know their story, but trying to imagine how bad things must be got them to force them to beg in such a way is enough to make you weep. I wonder if there are less of them around because the authorities are cracking down hard on begging, whether they’ve been moved out of the tourist areas, or whether there are genuinely fewer people that need to beg here. 

While at the castle, I took the opportunity to visit the cathedral there. It is simply stunning on the inside. Upon reflection, there were visitors from all over the world inside that Roman Catholic building, and I’d be willing to bet that there were more non-Catholics in there than Catholics. It was apparent that all inside were marvelling at what they saw, from stained glass windows to the towering ceiling, and many were taking advantage of being in such a sacred space to commune with their god or their thoughts.

Walking the streets of this lively and lovely city, walking round the castle, and sitting as I am now having tea, I’ve been stuck by the plethora of languages spoken, at the number of visitors and at the number of nationalities represented. I can hear at least five languages at the moment – and none of them are English! 

I’m sitting here wondering at how everyone seems to get along. I’ve not heard an angry voice while I’ve been in the city. Staff everywhere are unfailingly polite. Is it simply the good weather that means all these faiths and creeds are enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of Prague, or is there something else? Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of the world could learn how to do this too?

Homeless statistics increase – Image #56

Taken on Christmas Day, source The Guardian website
Taken on Christmas Day, source The Guardian website

I’m not going to say much about this today, as the figures speak for themselves. In this newspaper article, it’s evident that the number of homeless people sleeping rough in England has increased by 30% in a year, and by far the biggest demographic of those is people with mental health problems.

It’s 2016 for goodness’ sake. Why are we letting this happen in this day and age. What are you going to do to prevent it from continuing to happen? None of us is more than 1 bad decision from the same fate, so shouldn’t we do more, because one day it could be you or me.

 

YOU can make a difference

As some of my readers will know, 2015 has been a year of significant changes for me, all driven by my desire to become a better, more caring, more compassionate person.  Today’s post isn’t a “Yay, look at me” entry, but more of an example of how a seemingly small thing can make a difference to someone.

Continue reading YOU can make a difference