‘Gypsy and traveller families ‘hounded out’ of areas in act of ‘social cleansing’ as councils impose sweeping bans’ was the ominous heading of a story printed in the Independent last month. It may sound like a news article from 1940s Italy, but this demonstrates the alarming fact that antigypsyism is perceived by many to be the last socially “acceptable” form of racism in the UK today.
by Eli Lambe
No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.
What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?
by Tim Forster
Content warning: mentions domestic abuse, violence against women, violence against children
Twisted East Promotion have teamed up with Punk 4 The Homeless to put on a benefit gig at Gringos, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on 3rd February 2018. The gig will raise money for local Women’s Refuges, Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services and Punk 4 The Homeless, who support homeless children in Central America.
by Kev Walker
Content warning: mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict
It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.
He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.
by Eli Lambe
Released shortly before the disaster at Grenfell, Dispossession: The Great Social Housing Swindle is a timely and balanced exploration of the factors that led to the tragedy, and to the wider social cleansing of working class and low income communities throughout the UK. Introducing the film to a packed room in Norwich’s Cinema City, director Paul Sng emphasised the need to counter the “media culture of denigrating people who live in social housing”. The goal of the film, for Sng, was to show that people living in these estates and situations are valuable in themselves, and that the communities that exist there are important and should be preserved, as well as highlighting how this is overshadowed constantly by the prioritisation of profit and private sector gains.
by Hannah Rose
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.
Allen Ginsberg, San Francisco. 1955
Aliyah has lived in San Francisco’s Mission district her entire life, which I estimate at being around twenty-eight years. Mission is the city’s working class and Latino area. She sleeps on the living room floor. The TV is on and throws intermittent light over her slumbering form, phone still in hand. I have to step over Aliyah on my way to her room—which I am renting through Airbnb for the week—and am careful not to wake her despite the blare of the TV. On the wall, beneath a tangle of half-deflated gold balloons left over from a party, is a giant poster of Whitney Houston—the queen of pop. Behind the water cooler is the silhouetted form of Michael Jackson—the king of pop—suspended on tippy-toes and ‘He Lives’ stencilled beneath.
Photographs of Aliyah and her husband smile back at me from heart-shaped frames that decorate the far wall and on a small, white canvas the words ‘Life is the Flower for which Love is the Honey’ are in poppy-red. One of a few splashes of colour in this windowless, dimly lit apartment.
by Eli Lambe
Crude Apache is a local community theatre company which has been running, in one form or another, for the last 24 years. They are committed to producing accessible and thought-provoking theatre, and their tradition of using non-theatre spaces for their productions allows for innovative use of space and setting. The industrial, bare-bones space of The Shoe Factory Social Club in St Mary’s Works played well with the theme of their latest production, Howard Brenton’s Magnificence – a timely, if sometimes surface-level, exploration of the 1970’s squatters movement.
The play touches on the rise of neoliberalism, state-sanctioned brutality, homelessness and the effects of state brutality in turning resistance into a determination to hurt, and hurt spectacularly. Directed by Tom Francis, this was a solid adaptation of the original, and very successfully captured the arguments we are still having – with ourselves and each other – almost 50 years on.