Homeless on the Increase in Torrevieja?
What is it like to be homeless? Where do they live? How many are there? Many questions about a world which has always existed but was largely hidden from view. Numbers were low and the homeless were largely made up of drifters, layabouts and addicts. Now However? Things are changing and we see many more beggars, men, women and even children collecting ‘chattarra’ (scrap-metal, paper, cardboard, larger plastic items). A scruffy looking lot, smelly with it.
But think, how desperate must they be to walk around for many hours searching through bins full of stinking rubbish, pushing heavy laden carts uphill – and for what? For a pittance! On a good day maybe 3, 4, 5 Euros, on a bad day 70, 80, 90 cents. So many of them now walking our streets, there is not enough to go around anymore, even in our throw-away society. The pickings are getting less and less, it’s getting harder to get enough money for even the basic food. Candles, detergent to wash what little clothes they have, medicine, even simple painkillers, sticky plasters are all luxury items, this list goes on and on. But – don’t they all smoke? Drink alcohol?
Yes, most do, mostly the tobacco is collected from thrown away cigarette ends, only on a very good day can they buy a packet of a cheap cut.
All these men and now more and more women amongst them have once known some home comfort and earned decent wages. Many of them are from Ex-Soviet Union countries and they came here after being set free from the oppression of Communism in search for a better life and found it. Until the recession hit! These people were amongst the first to experience the economic down-turn, not having been given works contracts, not having any rights, being thrown onto the scrap heap of society. What must they feel, what must they think, how do they numb the thoughts? By drinking cheap booze, very cheap booze, how else can they cope with long and cold nights spent in a park, in a ruin, in a disused building site (I have visited many of them in these places).
What we can do for them is so very little, stretch out the hand of friendship, offer a breakfast, some hot food, give them a hug when we feel they need one, give them clean and decent clothing, and some other basic necessities, whatever we have to give, offer a hot shower and buy medicine when needed. They all are in desperate need of dental treatment, many need glasses or medical attention, not a lot we can do, there are so many. We see up to 60 every day at the centre, so many heartbreaking stories, all different, yet all similar.
There are many more living in dire circumstances and this year we have already seen a sharp increase in the number of homeless or semi-homeless (squatting in empty buildings) as more and more people are due to be evicted from their homes.
The worst thing is that there will be families with children amongst them.