Homelessness in Harrogate is a problem.
The scale of the Conservative austerity agenda means that while the issue grows on a daily basis, there is less and less help for those affected by the issue.
I was homeless. I lived in a damp squalid squat, a bedsit with four people in one room. There was black mould that stretched from the window to the opposite wall. We were all desperately ill that winter. I sofa surfed for years, living out of bin bags. I lived in the homeless hostel which is just by my house now, a grim yet inspiring reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
Nobody seems to notice that there’s a massive problem with vulnerably housed people in Harrogate, partly from lack of concern and mostly because there are schemes in place to help those affected by the issue, such as the No Second Night Out scheme and the work of people like Corrina Young.
Corrina’s Cafe was set up to help the homeless through getting people to pay what they could afford for a meal and the profits being pumped into helping people. Now, the project has changed its scope, dedicated to solely helping those who need them. A worthy cause. I went hungry. I begged on the street outside ASDA so that I could eat. It’s horrible. A hot meal would have meant the world of difference to 16 year old me.
I received a frantic phone call from one of the workers at the cafe yesterday. There is currently another Tory-inspired scheme going on in Harrogate – getting alcohol off the streets. The homeless eating at Corrina’s cafe have been blamed for the rise of drinking in the area and there is a campaign orchestrated by local Tory councillors who own rental property nearby to get the cafe closed down.
Targeting the vulnerable and kicking them when they are down does seem to be the Tories favourite hobby. Drinking on the streets of Harrogate is a problem, but when cuts have meant that HADA, the drug and alcohol counselling facilities that were on East Parade were shuttered, there isn’t any actual help for people caught up in addiction to stop. There was an article in the Advertiser saying it was saved, but it wasn’t. Like many essential services, it got kicked into the gutter and left to rot by local government.
The move to sweep the issue under the carpet is swift. People seem to be more concerned with saving property prices over people’s lives. It’s another problem that Harrogate doesn’t want to be seen to have.
Corrina’s Cafe is a lifeline for those who haven’t got anything else. When she opened, there was a great feeling in the community that she was here doing something wonderful, and she really is. Unfortunately, the blissful glow of helping those in need soon loses its shine when people realise that there’s more to helping folk than donating a tenner then forgetting about it.
Soon the campaign to get drinkers off the streets will target Corrina and her team’s good work helping those who need it most in Harrogate, under the guise of getting drunks off the streets. Can’t we try and work on the actual root case of the problems instead of hiding from them, sticking our fingers in our ears and singing the new Adele song until we can’t hear people’s cries for help?
Please help to save Corrina’s Cafe.
People affected by homelessness and vulnerable housing now or in the past are invited to the Haunt creative writing workshops at the Mercer Gallery 11am-1pm, 24th November and 1st December.