“His voice always smacked me hard in the stomach, so hard I could fold with the force of it. I suppose I shouldn’t want that feeling but it can make you numb, the homeless life. From the cold, yes, but also the way no one sees you.”
“When no one sees your goodness you start forgetting it’s there. ‘I’m not special, Luca,’ I said. ‘I’m just another homeless girl.’”
Molly is “just another homeless girl” we see on the streets almost daily. She sleeps under bridges or in a shop entry or a derelict building, sometimes alone, sometimes with her friends from the homeless community. “Colourful characters” you would call them if you were trying not to sound judgemental. But what we really see is a person who is unwashed, in old clothes, and often with a drink in their hand.
Mahsuda Snaith spoke to them directly, worked as a writer-in-residence at a homeless hostel and volunteered with an organisation which provides free food to homeless people. The result is “How to Find Home”, a look at one homeless girl and her friends, from odd Luca, who arranges his socks in order every night, to crazy Jules and caring Robin Hood, who gives out free food to the homeless.
“People wonder why homeless people always have a bevvy in their hands but it’s kind of medicinal. Drink doesn’t only keep you merry but it also keeps you numb. If you’re pissed, you don’t really notice the pain and the cold.”
“Pedestrians can’t stand groups of homeless together, especially when they’re trying to flog something. They like to think of us as lonely types with no community. If you’re by yourself, people can identify and sympathize, but if you’re in a group then they feel alienated and resentful. Simple psychology really.”
Molly is living on the streets of Nottingham when she meets Luca, and then, three friends and a dog make their way to Skegness. When you have no money or home, it is not as easy as buying a train ticket or getting on the motorway, but Luca is on a mission and Molly has her own secret mission waiting for her up north.
“How to Find Home” is an honest look at what it really means to be homeless and why people move to the streets, even if they have family somewhere. A family does not mean you feel you have a home to go to. “Home was the place you felt safe. Home was the place you were respected. Home was the place you were loved.”
If that is not your family, then you may be looking for it elsewhere and it may take you to the streets.
If this book teaches us anything, it is that everyone has a story worth hearing, even if they are sat in a shop entrance or holding out a cup hoping to get a few pennies.
Intrigued to read it yourself? You can win a copy of How to Find Home over on our competitions page.
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