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Bristol MP is Unsettled by Homelessness Bill

When Bristol West MP Thangham Debbonaire recently made an impassioned speech during the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, she reminded the House of Commons that homelessness is about real people, not just numbers.

‘Underneath the numbers, every one is an individual in an impossible situation, a person, cold and frightened, who has been let down or got into a mess and does not know how to get out,’ said Debbonaire during her attack on government policy which she claims has led to a sharp rise in homelessness.

The speech reminded us of Graham Walker’s book Unsettled which Tangent published almost 10 years ago. It’s one of the most revealing insights into homelessness that most readers will ever experience.

Unsettled, a book on homelessness by Big Issue seller Graham Walker Unsettled: In a Hole, Climbed a Mountain by Graham Walker.

Graham has been homeless most of his adult life. His story is a journey from the very bottom to self-accomplished heights. Unsettled is a powerful book that will have the reader laughing and crying in equal measure and ultimately begs the questions; what is a home and what does it mean to be homeless? Does living in temporary housing indicate that that person is homeless? Does being in danger of losing your home classify as being pre-homeless? Or do the bailiffs need to have already visited?

As is often said; you’re only ever three payslips away from being homeless in today’s climate. So with everyone on the precipice of homelessness, it’s important to remember that it could happen to any of us.

Most people who are concerned about the homeless (including Thangham Debbonaire) would consider themselves to be sympathetic to rough sleepers. But Graham makes the point that we all stereotype homeless people, particularly when we see a figure huddled in a sleeping bag in a shop doorway.

We probably see a drug user or someone with addiction and mental health problems, we don’t see a mother, a father, a son or daughter or someone with a sharp sense of humour or a particular talent for drawing, writing, or perhaps cooking.

Unsettled is an entertaining and educational book and it’s also a very moving story. Graham’s experiences as a homeless person and Big Issue seller make a real impact on the way in which people think about homelessness, particularly young people.

Here’s what one Primary School pupil from Newton Abbot said about Unsettled after Graham visited his school to give a talk: “Thank you for showing us not to take the piss out of homeless people and we now realise that homeless people are there for a reason and not just there because they want to lounge around, be lazy and claim on benefits…”

Unsettled - book written by homeless author Graham Walker Comments in a letter by a primary school pupil

David Williams

David is currently a full-time student at UWE studying English with Writing. He's using his time here to help create blog posts of interest to discerning punters, as well as honing his writing skills. Not sure what the future holds, so long as it involves words.

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