I’m someone who lives and has lived on the margins, economically as well as socially and emotionally.
Being marginal has in some ways kept parts of my identity safe and protected, and in others ways has screwed me over big time. It has left me without family or home at some points, without access to support, knowledge, social interactions or sense of self worth.
It has kept me small and quiet.
But being on the margins has also given me the gift of sight in some areas which more mainstream folks cannot see and it has given me a determination to hold on to the roots of my humanness.
I live in an inner city area and I’m grateful to have a home here but I don’t have any prospects to be able to find a new one that would be better for my physical access needs, many landlords will no longer rent to people in the benefits system. The most recent advice I had was , “unless you’re being evicted, don’t bother looking (for a new place)”.
In my local area I could show you the places that wild roses grow, where there’s wild herbs in the grass in communal parks, I could show you where seeds have taken root in road grit boxes and have thrived. I could show you where, amongst all the many people who live in this small area, a lonely person is likely to be greeted with a smile if you go out and say hello to someone.
These small, small , precious pieces of the margins where we often don’t have many choices.
It seems every time I go out on a bus this year, I see more and more temporary dwellings and tents in pieces of marginal land where folks without homes are sleeping- partly shielded by trees on my local city roundabouts, on wasteland next waterways, in quiet corners of public parks. And the number of rough sleepers in town grows every time I’m there, in corners, doorways, under bridges, in shadows, in plain sight.
Can any one else see what I’m seeing?
Does it take being on the edge of things to be able see other people living in the margins?
If housing is a basic human right, I shouldn’t feel like a “lucky” person to have a cold, damp flat to call home.