I painted this piece in response to an announcement on the Victoria Line train yesterday: “Do not encourage beggars on the Tube by supporting them” directly followed by; “Poppy collectors are operating at this station. Support the heroes who sacrificed so much for you”
But what if the homeless ‘beggar’ was once a soldier? Like over 13,000 veterans now homeless according to charities, thanks to government cuts to armed forces and mental health services. Which pigeon hole does he fit? Is he more worthy because he was a soldier or less so because he’s now a beggar? Besides Empathy shouldn’t favour occupation. .
A corrupt banking system, austerity, social care cuts and harsh welfare reform has led to rough sleepers doubling in the past 2 years alone. .
Meanwhile, minimal attention has been given to big business and corporations committing billions in fraud or tax avoidance. But the media continues to feed us sensationalist headlines of ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘immigrants’. .
And that, is just perfect for those at the top. Perfect as they grin in the financial comfort of their siphoned offshore accounts and the warm toasty seats of their expense paid house, playing scapegoat puppetry with us all.
But yeah let’s just ignore all that and not ‘encourage’ ‘beggars’ by ‘supporting’ them on the Tube. Tragically the average UK life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 43, compared to 77 for the rest of the population. Surely people who are homeless, hungry or cold should be the first ones we look after in society rather than labelling them as some sort of parasite. .
FYI to TFL, that ‘beggar’ could also be that ‘solider’ you are ‘encouraging’ us to support in your next announcement