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  • Eco and ethical food and drink

     

    Having previously explored Bristol’s late night kebab economy, Evie Steen now looks at the growing trend for zero waste and ethical food and drink

    With the increasing awareness of the need to reduce our carbon footprint, Bristol has seen a rapid increase in Zero Waste shops. For around 30 years, Scoopaway has led the way, serving customers nutritious and organic food and encouraging them to ditch throw-away packaging and bring reusable bags and containers to fill with staples such as rice, beans, pulses, cereals and more. Scoop the required amounts from the food bins into your bag just like it says on the sign. This independent and friendly store still sells an impressive range of the everyday grocery items on your shopping list so be sure to make the change, choose local and be sure to check out the tea selection.

    Scoopaway, 113 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, Bristol, BS7 8AT
    www.scoopawayhealthfoods.co.uk 0117 987 2199

    Sitting in or eating out

    Take-away food often entails a handful of plastic forks, a box you will never use again and pathetic-sized ketchup and mayonnaise packets. Not to mention the amount of food wasted by making the huge eyes-bigger-than-your-stomach mistake. No need to worry, here we have some suggestions of notable restaurants and cafes serving up the most zero waste meals.

    Friska

    Park Street; Here, Bath Road; Emersons Green; Victoria Street; The Eye, Glass Wharf; Cathedral Walk, Harbourside

    www.friskafood.com

    Friska is a very popular café for coffee, breakfast and lunch, introduced to Bristol by two young entrepreneurs Griff Holland and Ed Brown in 2009. It’s not just the good food that keeps people coming, the great thing is that all of their take-away boxes and utensils are wooden, limiting the use of single use plastics means they are really doing their part. Alongside this, all unsold food is given to homeless charities and on-site waste is either re-cycled, composted or incinerated meaning nothing goes to landfill. You can’t talk about Friska without mentioning their partnership with two important charities FRANK Water, who raise money for clean water projects in the developing world, and Deki (a n ethical loans scheme for remote and marginalised communities). Friska’s wholesome attitude to eating really allows customers to feel good as the owners intended. Saving the planet and happy taste buds make a good lunchtime combination.

    Poco Tapas Bar

    45 Jamaica Street, BS2 8JP

    www.pocotapasbar.com

    In 2004 co-founders Tom Hunt, Jen Best and Ben Pryor took Bristol by storm, bringing even more life to the pleasure-seekers of the city by combining the acts of self-indulgence and helping the planet. With a goal of sustainability and waste reduction, this eatery has received several eco awards including most ethical restaurant in 2013 and Food Made Good Best Business Of The Year award in 2016 and 2018. Multi-talented head chef Tom Hunt defines himself as an ‘Eco chef, food waste activist and a big eater’, which undoubtedly creates a feeling of comfort and reassurance that you know you will be eating well in his care. All parts of the ingredients are used in some sort of funky way on your plate or in your cocktail in order to diminish waste produced from the company. What’s not to love? Check out Tom’s blog and the Poco website for upcoming events in this jazzy space on the corner of Jamaica street, hire Tom’s crew out for a festival, or see how he can make your wedding day even more special (and sustainable of course). https://www.tomsfeast.com/poco-festivals/poco-bristol/

    Better Food Company

    Sevier Street, St Werburgh’s, Whiteladies Road, Clifton; Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf

    www.betterfood.co.uk

    We all know that shopping organic is important but shopping local is even better. Enter Better Food who clearly state that when it come to food shopping, the most important factors to bear in mind are organic, local and ethical. After starting off as a food box service, going against the grain of mass production in the food industry, this independent Bristol-based company has spread it wings and its territory, having shops and cafes now in three locations; St Werburgh’s, Clifton and Wapping Wharf. They pride themselves on their relationships with their food providers, and on the website you are able to see a list of their suppliers so customers can be confident in what they are buying.

  • Bristol's best late-night take-aways #2

    In the second of a series of posts, Evie Steen and a team of early-hours connoisseurs bring you the definitive guide to how to satisfy ferocious hunger after a few too many pints…

    Slix and Rita’s

    Where to find it: 88-91 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3RD (Slix)
    94 Stokes Croft, Bristol BS1 3RJ (Rita’s)

    Pouring out of Lakota, Love Inn, and Crofters Rights and making their way up Stokes Croft, wobbly club goers part like the red sea onto either side of the road searching for the right food to hit the spot.

    Rita’s or Slix? The question that divides us all.

    Both places have been around since anyone can remember, feeding the 5,000 chicken and chips in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning. Rita’s has more of an expansive menu – you won’t catch a kebab on the menu in Slix - and a man who looks out the window smiling at passersby. But Slix is open until 6am and serves a good portion of fries, so who could really make the decision?

    These two places remain the same in the constantly changing area of Stokes Croft. Get your Rita’s T-shirt whilst you tuck into your food and try to drown out the screaming of orders and overpowering chart music once you have managed to perch on one of the two chairs available. It’s all part of the experience. Slix has a bit less of the in-flight entertainment but sometimes all you want is a quick in-and-out transaction.

    Needless to say you’ve got all the ingredients of a late-night take-away between these two places – irritating drunk people desperate for their kebab, something greasy and over-priced mayo.

    Dennis Kebab

    Where to find it: 40 Cannon St, Bristol BS3 1BN, just off the bottom of North Street

    What to expect: Well, Bedminster is not the most buzzing area past 2am (unless that desire for a kebab arrives on a Sunday night) so you might struggle to find a place to fill your stomach, but this place satisfies the needs of many before packing up for the night. After the trek from town back to your home turf across the river, reward yourself with a well deserved kebab whilst Dennis makes you feel right at home.

    House Speciality: The chicken kebab is notably great.

    Diamond Kebab and Pizza

    Where to find it: 28 Park St, Bristol BS1 5JA

    What to expect: This establishment is for those University of Bristol kids who like to venture further into town for a boogie than the pop-infested Triangle and can’t make it back to the top of the hill for their greasy kebab. It’s even open 24h on a Wednesday, a bit strange, but ideal for those leaving the clubs on the Triangle late on sports society night. Catch a University of Bristol versus UWE scrap outside for entertainment with your meal.

    House Speciality: It’s got to be the lamb doner.

  • Bristol's best late-night take-aways

    In the first of a series of posts, Evie Steen and a team of early-hours connoisseurs bring you the definitive guide to how to satisfy ferocious hunger after a few too many pints…

    Grecian Kebab House

    Where to find it: 2 Cromwell Road, St Andrews, Bristol, BS6 5AA, just up from the arches.

    What to expect: Established in 1971, the Grecian is almost as well-known as the Suspension Bridge and is far more useful at 3am. Whether it’s the wide selection of £5 pizzas or a classic doner kebab in pitta bread, this buzzing shop is the place to be after a night out. You’ll meet the wackiest of characters, locals and students on their ways home from a night in the boho Stokes Croft.

    House Speciality: Pizza. It’s hard to go wrong with a choice of 24 different combinations of toppings. From the no.1 cheese and tomato for the classic yet boring experience to their no.17 – ham, egg, courgette and aubergine – a selection of toppings more insulting than pineapple.

    Opening Times:
    Monday-Thursday: 5pm- 3am
    Friday-Saturday: 4pm-5am
    Sunday: 3pm-2am

    Taka Taka

    Where to find it: 3 Queens Road, Triangle South, Bristol BS8 1EZ

    What to expect: A rite of passage for University of Bristol students, based in the heart of their territory, the Clifton Triangle. Taka Taka is bold, luminous and in your face. It’s rare for a kebab to taste the same before the pints or vodka lemonades kick in but this place is popular day and night, taking after-club food to a whole new level.

    House speciality: The Magic Roll. Chips in a kebab? Why not.

    Opening times:
    Monday – Saturday: 11am – 4am
    Sunday: 12pm-12am

     Jason Donervan

    Where to find it: Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1QU

    What to expect: A kebab is always more enjoyable with a pun on the side. Located right on the top of the Triangle surrounded by the likes of Gravity (previously Analog, 78, Bunker, and so on), Mbargos and Lizard Lounge, you won’t be short of whining drunk girls, barefoot with their heels in their hands flirting, asking for free chicken nuggets with their cheesy chips. Staff are good humoured. They have to be.

    House Speciality: Can’t go wrong with anything but you have to try their doner kebab for the sake of the name.

    Quigleys

    Where to find it: 5 St Augustine's Parade, Bristol BS1 4XG.

    What to expect: It’s extremely popular because it’s right in the centre of town located just off the harbour and the bottom of Park Street within a clutter of kebab and pizza places. Don’t be put off by the queues, they move quickly. Very friendly staff who are probably funnier than the mate you came with.

    House Speciality: Hands down the best gravy in central Bristol to soak up your cheesy chips.

    Opening times:
    Sunday- Monday: 11am–3am
    Tuesday- Wednesday: 11am–2am
    Thursday- Friday: 11am- 4am
    Saturday: 11am- 5am

    Miss Millie’s

    Where to find it: 91 Gloucester Road, Bristol BS7 8AT. (Six more shops in various locations around Bristol)

    What to expect: After walking into my house after work I found my flat mate, drunk, crying in the bathroom. Was it something serious? No, she’d fallen off the meat wagon. After four years of not ingesting an animal, from what I could make out through the sobbing and mumbling, she was telling me that this was the best chicken burger she’d ever eaten. Of course I had to try it now.

    House Speciality: Not often will you find me stray away from my regular chips with gravy or curry sauce but take it from the vegetarian and me, their chicken burger is definitely a winner.

    Opening times:
    Sunday – Thursday: 11am- 2am
    Friday – Saturday: 11am- 3am

  • The Rise of Veganism and Vegetarianism

    Sol Wilkinson marvels at the militant millennials who are turning Bristol vegan…

    For the average Brit awakening from cryogenic sleep, the country must appear to have gone completely insane. There’s Brexit; a crumbling government; soaring temperatures exceeding those of Spain; Old Market’s becoming a nice place for a walk; and, on top of all this, people are giving up meat in favour of plants. Of course, the latter is an exaggerated generalisation but the Vegan society did confirm that Britain’s vegan population had risen from 150,000 in 2006 to over 542,000 in 2016 – an astounding 350% increase – and since these stats, the UK’s number of plant-based lifestyles has continued to grow like a big, beautiful aubergine. Additionally, the majority of these recent converts are young people, under the age of 34, and in 2018, Kellogg’s vegan poll highlighted that over half of all 16-24 year olds had at least tried a plant-based diet in the previous 12 months.

    So what’s to account for this surge in herbivorous millennials? Whilst many lifestyle trends play the hare of the race, quickly seized up and squeezed dry for profit by marketing directors, vegetarianism and veganism have played the tortoise. Being a vegetarian since birth and occasional vegan, I can clarify that the journey from Sosmix and lentil soups to Pizza Hut’s vegan menu has been sluggish and laboured. I endured a childhood of being the only weird, pale veggie kid in my school, the mid-summer barbeques where my friend’s drunk dad would wave a greasy sausage in my face, ‘Just have a bite! No one’s gonna die if you eat a bit of MEAT!’, and eye-rolls from nearly everyone when asked to accommodate for my diet. It was an irritating culinary protest that eventually became accepted and has now reached an accelerating take-off in popularity.

    Arguably, this is rooted in its sincere, progressive ethics that cannot be brushed off as a social fad. The plant-based diet has more in common with feminism and civil rights than it does with clean eating and spiralisers. It is a political expression railing against the prejudice and barbaric injustices inflicted upon animals. It seems only logical that in an age of #MeToo, Wokeness and LGBTQ, veganism would also stand with these cultural monoliths against the systematic persecution of minority groups.

    And what of the backlash? The innovative work of Russian philosopher Sveltana Boym argues that ‘nostalgia has historically coincided with revolution’; the notion being that in times of imminent, seemingly subconscious social advancement, culture retreats into its shell, gazes longingly back to the past. The suggestion here is that we are either culturally or biologically frightened of change, or at least incapable of fully coping with change as it plays out in the present. This could explain why Donald Trump and MAGA exist, as well as the heights of the UKIP sentiment. It explains why confused young white males, who would have identified as hardcore liberals only a decade ago, are now manifesting their frustrated angst in the backwards politics of the alt-right. It also explains the technophobic resurgence of sales in vinyl and vintage clothes. But what does it have to do with veganism? I would argue that the ‘rare meat’ craze, which occurred in the early 2010s - hipsters feasting on the likes of kangaroos, zebras and crocodiles - harkened back to the decadent dining of exotic animals during the era of Colonial expansion a.k.a., the good ol’ days. The hope lies in the statistics that this is predominantly a practice of the youth, and not just the counter-culture either. Generally, humans feel more comfortable doing something if everybody else is already doing it, and this is maybe the simplest explanation for plant-based prevalence in the mainstream.

    As well as this, the distribution of family-friendly animal rights documentaries through wide-reaching streaming platforms like Netflix, such as the immensely popular Cowspiracy, has helped ease the concept into our everyday lives. The aforementioned film has also contributed to a new factor driving the vegan switch: environmentalism.

    ‘The only ways you can effectively reduce your carbon footprint are to go vegan, stop driving to work and stop taking foreign holidays!’, my dad would angrily lecture his millennial co-workers, glaring at them, stood in his cycling shorts.
    ‘But I use energy-saving light bulbs’, one of the students feebly retorted.

    I’ve been lucky to grow up as a vegetarian in Bristol. A pseudo-bohemian, artsy and anti-corporate vibe has always lingered in the city’s air - along with the smell of weed – that runs concurrent with this Jungian mass consciousness of left-leaning politics. Logically, this has led to it becoming the Petri dish of thriving veggie and vegan eateries that you can explore today.

    Café Kino
    108 Stokes Croft, BS1 3RU · Tel: 924 9200 · www.cafekino.coop

    Reigns as the seminal Bristolian vegan café and for good reason. Always the most significant torch carrier of plant-based cuisine in Bristol, Kino materialises in my earliest memories of eating-out for vegan food. It used to be a cosy little living-room space on Nine Tree Hill where you could chat to the chef as they whipped you up a chickpea curry. It’s now the giant café-cum-community space at 108 Stokes Croft, permanently bustling and with more MacBooks on its tables than the Apple store. The all-vegan menu includes breakfasts, burgers, salads, soup, cakes, snacks and the most excellent Kino chips.

    VX: Vegan Junk Food
    123 East Street, BS3 4ER · Tel: 329 1610 · www.vxbristol.com

    Vegans are often associated with frailty, clear skin and immaculate bowel movements. VX in Bedminster, a modern pioneer of vegan cuisine, provides the antithesis to this stereotype. Originating in London, VX came to Bristol with a plant-based artillery ranging from hotdogs and burritos to patisserie and milkshakes. I could only have imagined indulging in all these greasy, saturated meals as a kid. Truly revolutionary. And it’s all incredibly ‘aesthetic’ too, performing well for the Instagram generation. Don’t forget to check out the grocery and Secret Society of Vegan merchandise sections.

    Pepenero
    15, King St, Avon, Bristol BS1 4EF · Tel: 926 8057 · pepenero.co.uk

    This family-owned pizzeria originally made a name for itself with its delicious range of vegan pizzas. For on-the-edge vegans, it can’t be stressed enough that Pepenero’s pizzas are the closest a vegan can get to the real deal, without sacrificing your moral ascendancy. They also serve a fantastic range of vegetarian pizzas, as well as authentic Italian starters and deserts, all prepared with the finest family recipes and organic ingredients. They recently relocated to one of King Street’s underground grottos, sharing a space with one of Bristol’s best craft beer spots, The Beer Emporium. Offering 32 beers on tap, numerous bottles and spirits, the pub is a must visit for beer geeks, who will get on with the staff of alcohol scholars and the ocean of obscure brews to explore.

    Eat Your Greens
    156 Wells Road, Totterdown, Bristol BS4 2AG · Tel: 239 8704

    Sweet and breezy café that boasts an all vegan menu, evidencing the utter honesty in their humorously passive aggressive name. Renowned for their ‘Beasty Breakfast’, a vegan full-English that may sway devout meat-eaters to the herbivorous path.

    Koocha Mezze Bar
    10 Zetland Road, Bristol, BS6 7AD · Tel: 924 1301 · www.koochamezzebar.com/

    Bringing the meat-centric flavours of Persia to a vegan audience, Koocha is a family-operated mezze and cocktail bar. Exhibits a chilled-out vibe whilst maintaining the amiable vibrancy that makes it ideal for a tipsy night-out with your plant-based buddies.

    Miscellaneous

    Luc’s/Xing Wang
    21 Midland Road, Bristol, BS2 0JT · Tel: 955 7691 · www.lucschinesetakeaway.co.uk
    17 Harrowdene Road, Bristol, BS4 2JL · Tel: 977 7881 · http://www.everymenu.co.uk/bristol/chinese/xing_wang-7803.htm

    Amidst a menu of decent Chinese food, these two obscure takeaways also provide the most exquisite fried tofu; perfect for satiating late-night munchies. Ask Xing Wang for the ‘159 Deep Fried Beancurd with Salt & Chilli’ and Luc’s for the ‘Salt & Chilli Tofu’. And make sure you order a couple of pots because they are ridiculously moreish.

    Shadin Indian Takeaway
    70 Broad St, Bristol, BS16 5NL · Tel: 957 2786 · shadinbristol.co.uk
    Relatively unknown outside its humble locality of the South-Glos-border-burbs, Shadin Indian Takeaway is a treasure trove of the tastiest vegetarian curries in Bristol. Eating Shadin curries is like having sex with God. Not much more can be elicited with mere words about this place; a legend in the making, you’ll have to experience it for yourself.

  • The Bristol Booze Odyssey #3

    Tony Bolger continues his journey around Bristol's pubbiest pubs…

    Episode 3: The Seven Stars, St Thomas Lane

    The Seven Stars doesn’t quite fit with the motif of my previous outings into Bristol’s ‘pubbiest publand’. Both the Mardyke and The Long Bar are the sort of places that could be kindly described as ‘basic’ and more accurately as ‘rough’.

    Certainly, neither of them can claim to be ‘The Pub That Changed The World’. But that’s the title that Bristol historian Mark Steeds has bestowed on The Seven Stars, a seemingly traditional boozer tucked away next to The Fleece & Firkin in St Thomas.

    “The Seven Stars was the base for Thomas Clarkson when he visited Bristol to begin his investigations into the slave trade,” explains Mark. “It's the site of the world’s first major civil rights movement. You name me any other pub that can claim that.”

    In 1787, Thomas Clarkson arrived in Bristol and began his abolitionist crusade against slavery. At the time, slavery was the backbone of Bristol’s economy so obviously Clarkson faced opposition, hostility and threats of violence at every turn.

    That is, until he was introduced to the landlord of The Seven Stars, a man named Thompson. The two joined forces and using the pub as their headquarters, they conducted their research into the vile industry. Upon investigating the conditions on the slave ships, they learned that the free sailors often received very similar treatment to that of the slaves. Many free seamen were dying on board the slave ships or taking part in mutinies to escape the atrocious conditions on board.

    In fact, these sailors were often conned into signing up to serve aboard these ships while drunk or simply kidnapped like the slaves themselves. Clarkson and Thompson were able to expose the reality of slavery. This was a huge blow to the slave industry and proved pivotal in changing attitudes worldwide because before the slave trade was publicised as a great boon for working seamen.

    “Clarkson found that of the roughly 1000 Bristol sailors engaged in the trade in 1786, almost half never made it home,” Says Mark “He then used the technique in all of Britain’s port cities and the results became a major factor in changing public opinion.”

    There is an ongoing petition to turn the pub into a World Heritage Site and I have no doubt that The Seven Stars, Thompson and Clarkson will eventually receive the recognition they deserve for the huge part they played in changing the world. There’s already a large plaque on the pub’s outside wall explaining its historical importance.

    History coming alive aside, it’s a good, warm pub and won the CAMRA Bristol Pub of The Year in 2010 for its excellent selection of ales. The bar is tucked away down a cobbled lane but the leaping pig sign hanging on the corner serves as a good landmark for finding it. There are five picnic tables outside the pub. Inside, there’s a very chilled, friendly atmosphere with exposed wooden rafters on the ceiling and wooden floor boards.

    This may not be as bar-brawling or riotous as the first two pubs on this list but that’s not to say that this place isn’t a proper down-to-earth boozer. Brit pop is the music of choice, there’s old ads on the walls as well as water colours of ye olde Bristol and a picture of Mona Lisa holding a lager. When you go into the men’s, the smell tells tales of pisses taken in the 1770s and at the back of the pub, perilously close to the toilets is a pool table and dart board. Both couldn't physically be used at once without causing serious injuries, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t always keen to try.

    Mark Steeds is the author of Cry Freedom, Cry Seven Stars (Bristol Radical History Group) available from www.tangentbooks.co.uk.

  • The Bristol Booze Odyssey: A leisurely descent into some independent proper pubby pubs on a budget

    Tony Bolger is Tangent's guest blogger for the next couple of months and his chosen subject is Bristol Pubs – Cheap Ones With Very Few Frills.

    Do join in and post your thoughts and reviews. Over to you Tony…

    I've lived in Bristol for two years but still feel slightly lost most of the time. People tend to give directions using pubs and bars as landmarks so you’ll inevitably hear “Turn right at The Lager Hole. It used to be The Booze Bucket.”

    You see, bars in Bristol are constantly changing hands, names and personalities to become ever more pretentious and expensive gastro/frappé-fusion/crafty copies of each other. But there are still proper pubs out there that haven’t changed hands, prices or their hoover bag since the last time England won The World Cup. I’m going to get a tetanus shot and I’m going to find these pubs. If you’re tired of paying £6 for a chocolate stout and eating haloumi off a kitchen floor tile in a place with all the charm of a Maccy Dees, I invite you to join me on this Bristol Booze Odyssey. Hopefully the sessions won’t be as dramatic as the title.

    The first stop on this tipple voyage is The Mardyke across the road from the Grain Barge on Hotwell Road along the harbour. The Mardyke is by all accounts a Bristol institution. Established in 1820 under the name the Cross Keys. Apparently, it used to be a biker bar. We shall see what it is now.

    We step inside out of the cold and into 1952. The room is silent. There’s a real “Ya ain’t from round here, are ya boy?” vibe. Then, in wonderfully unfortunate timing, one of the locals gets a text message and his ring tone is that iconic Sergio Leone cowboy music that plays whenever Clint Eastwoodmoseys into town. DO DO DO WAW WAW WAW. The décor is what I would describe as brown which must be handy for cleaning. There’s pictures of random old kings and queens getting married, Winston Churchill and a creepy little girl who was probably a ghost the whole time on the walls. There’s a sign above the bar warning:

    “OUTSIDE THE PREMISES: DO NOT OBSTRUCT OR INTIMIDATE PASSERS-BY.
    STAY OFF THE HIGHWAY”

    Then Abba comes on the jukebox and we know everything is going to be OK. We proceed to mosey up to the bar where the very friendly barkeep greets us with a smile. He isn’t a disenchanted goth whose acting career didn’t work out, so the customer service is really excellent. Making a quick assessment of the bar, I notice the wide selection of cans in the fridge and unusual array of bottles on the optics. I’d never seen apple sours or Pernod upside down before. I order three pints of Fosters. The barman charges me £6.90. First, I think he’s misspoke. Then I’m positive we have indeed accidentally travelled back through time but Abba’s still on, our beers are wet and our glasses are clean, so we proceed to sit on the brown church pew style benches and listen to Fernando.

    Out of curiosity more than necessity, I went to investigate the men’s room. It was perfectly serviceable though I was surprised and charmed to see the old-fashioned toilet with the pull-down chain but although this alcoholic endeavour is technically a stab at investigative journalism, I’m no Ross Kemp and there was no way I was washing my hands with the crusty bar of soap on the sink.

    While you’re drinking your two espresso martinis for a tenner and listening to whatever audio poison is infecting the Top 40 on Spotify this week, you could really be anywhere but at The Mardyke, you know you’re in Bristol which is exactly what we wanted all along, isn’t it? This is a quaint, authentic, proper pub with proper, manly locals who are happy to ignore you as long as you like 1970s Eurovision bangers. You should check it out and if you have any pubby pub recommendations or would like to submit a pubby pub review of your own, please do get in touch.

  • 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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