Photo Essay on Home and Homelessness in Reading

Recently I came close to losing my flat. I have had a couple of bouts of so called ‘sofa surfing’ in the last 2 years. The last period being between August and September this year. To lose your home, or even to live under the threat of losing your home is a feeling of extreme powerlessness. It is terrifying – I can’t describe it.

Having lost my job recently, I was suddenly faced with losing my home again. I have been very upset by this. To try and cope with this I wondered what signs I could find in my home town of Reading or homelessness and signs of home.

The first signs I looked for were, those of identity:

First I found flats, one for Cornwall and then the LGBTQ+ flag. People in Reading trying to claim their past or perhaps their present while in the most transient cities of the country.

I saw, in the shopping centre the Polish supermarket – this confuses the matter as the shop is so Polish, that I imagine hardly any Brits ever go in.

The final plaintive cry was scratched into a door: Take Me Home – what better sign could there be for a dislocated person in this dislocating town.

So who are the dislocated? People like the man who regularly begs outside the Tesco’s at the Cemy Junction. He claims to be deaf and mute so its difficult to find out what his name in. Tomeka and Brumie were kind enough to talk to me and let me take their picture. They sit on the streets and wait. They wait. They wait. They wait.

But, this is not all the people on the streets. Reading has people who are simply sleeping on the street.

 

These two gentlemen are simply just sleeping on the street. One in a door way one in a tunnel under the station. As you can see from the first picture, they are simply part of the background. They are mixed in with a bag of rubbish and we, the normal people with a home, simply walk past them.

Reading is a town that needs more homes, but those with homes or perhaps more accurately. Those with a house, are sick of the number of flats that are being built around the city.

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I am saddened by this graffiti. I won’t be able to afford a house, I don’t think, when I am in the position to buy a home again. A flat will be a life saver, however the joker who wrote this graffiti wants to keep me out of a home – thanks mate.

It could be worse, I have a flat that’s slightly about a bedsit, and somewhere that I really love. Despite not having hot water and damp everywhere. But, it could be worse. It could be worse, it could be much worse.

I could live here

Or here

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Reading now has a small shanty town, which reminds me of the Jungle in Calais or the temporary migrant camps that I saw in Dunkirk

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Some people have taken the law into their own hands and are occupying abandoned barges on the river. The homes look drier and perhaps more interesting.

But in the shanties are spread throughout the town. They are hidden but if you know where you are looking obvious.

How can we have let ourselves to get like this?

And finally why do we allow activists, preservationists and those that would seek to pull up the ladder behind them to say:

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