So many stories. Some are sad, despairing. Others are hopeful. A few are tantalisingly incomplete, so no one will ever know what happened next.
Mr B and I are visiting the Art Exhibition put on by the Worthing Churches Homeless Project. I’ve written about it before, regular readers may remember, but for newbies to the Daily Blog (all of whom are most welcome!) the idea behind the exhibition
was for local artists to paint, draw or model “portraits” of the 534 clients who have been helped by WCHP over the course of the last year. The artists were given an anonymous written profile of the clients – mine was Client 41.
Now I cannot be considered to be an artist in the strictest sense of the word. At school I managed to get by in Art by studying the History of Art (which required essays
rather than artwork) and Calligraphy. The problem was I needed a third string to my artistic bow, a third colour to my artist’s palette. Still Life, perhaps? But, no, I could never manage perspective. Some would say I still can’t....
My modest contribution to the Art Project was therefore of the knitted variety. It was, I have to tell you, the only knitted portrait on display. Mr B says there may be a
reason for that. We buy ourselves a cup of coffee and a cake each and sit at a table where we can watch the video about the work of WCHP and at the same time keep an eye on how many people look at my knitted man among all the other rather more worthy exhibits.
At least that was my reason for sitting there, Mr B needed to rest his back which was sore from bending down to read all the stories attached to the portraits.
the portraits are displayed on metal fencing which is part of the overall message. Homelessness fences you in, restricting what you do, at the same time as fencing you out, preventing you from doing things. My favourite of all the portraits is one which
proclaims “There but for the grace of God...”
So true. Several of the client profiles – the stories – tell how suddenly, how alarmingly,
life can change, fall apart. Others relate long seated problems of childhood abuse or broken relationships. The hopeful ones – and there are many – explain how they are working to put their lives back together and where they hope and plan their
future will be. There are a few clients who visited the WCHP once and never returned. Those are the ones which worry me – what became of them, where are they now, are they alright?
Mr B reminds me that he was homeless once, for a week, at the age of 20 – thrown out by his landlady (he always refers to her as “the old, fat, landlady – but perhaps he can be forgiven?) and forced to bed down in
the Old Boys Club attached to his former boarding school. One week was quite enough, he says and I tell him I can’t imagine what even a day without a home must be like.
Back in our garden a woodpecker family has taken up residence. The mother keeps swooping down to feed off the coconut shell hanging from our bird feeder, carrying choice morsels back up into the cherry tree where Young 'un waits hungrily. The father
is tapping away at our tamarisk tree, which is a trifle worrying. Somewhere, high in the cherry tree, they have made their home and we count ourselves lucky to have them here in our garden.
There’s no place like home, whether it’s a house or a cherry tree. Here’s to organisations like the Worthing Churches Homeless Project, who work for those without a home.
The Woodpecker Family. Mr B and I. We are the lucky ones. There but for the grace of God....