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Better believe

November 01 2020
© Ioanna Toufexi © Ioanna Toufexi

Round-up of the 21st century lowlights and some positive personal changes by Mat Amp

The past few years have produced a burgeoning list of the unbelievable. Atop this list sit the new caricature leaders of the free world, Dozza and Bozza, the twin Spitting Image puppets made flesh. What a pair of unbelievable clowns.

How did we get here? After the E-fuelled rampant idealistic hedonism of the '90s, the new Millennium fast became the era where nothing was unbelievable because we believed in nothing. Connection gave way to voyeurism and a rash of reality TV shows featured wannabee TV presenters acting anything but real. 

It was unbelievably contrived but inevitably led to far more sinister form of reality-based entertainment like Bum Fights, a homemade show produced by a couple of 16-yearold middle class kids, that videoed homeless guys battering the shit out of each other, pulling out their own teeth and getting BUM FIGHTS tattooed on their heads. 

The teenagers sold their creation for millions but before you get too pissed off, rest assured that they shared that wealth with the actors. While most of them got at least a beer for their pain and suffering, some received as much as US$10 just for ripping out a tooth without anaesthetic. 

The truffling oinkery continued, with the total and utter bankers devising ever more clever ways to milk investments, ramping up the stakes and hiding the risk until the entire ivory tower collapsed into a twirly steaming pile of canine doings. 

And in the 12 years since, austerity policies have punished the poor while quantitative easing has rewarded the well-off for levelling our economy to ground zero.

And then the Covid shit show surprised us and the world will never be the same.

In this country at least, the homeless sector’s proactive and coordinated response stands in stark contrast to a government policy which could best be described as resembling a game of Whac-a-mole in which the moles are not the only blind things participating. Big up to Pathway which has led the charge with founder Al Story at the helm devising the Covid-19 Homeless Sector Plan which put simply, has saved a lot of lives.  

Although the homeless hotels have been a bit hit and miss, with some people lucking out in fairly decent gaffs, while others ended up in less salubrious establishments, the health outcomes have been unbelievably positive. Covid-19 transmission rates are in line with the general population, whereas the estimates if nothing had been done, projected a figure as high as 40% – which is, unsurprisingly, the estimated current infection rate in the US where they’ve done sweet FA for their homeless community.

While our government may be as much use as a sun bed in the Sahara, there are an increasing number of us working in the homeless sector who care because we’ve been out there. Believe it, we’ve got your back.

Take courage

  • Volunteering with the Pavement and Poached Creative (now defunct) took me to …
  • Groundswell where I got a part-time job running a writing programme, From the Ground Up
  • Supported Permitted Work allowed me to work part-time as a project worker gaining invaluable experience researching 
  • The week I wrote this column (October) I got a full-time post helping to run Groundswell’s community journalism project. Find out more
  • When I was on the street, sticking a needle in my arm five times a day this all seemed a million miles away, but I’ve got this job because of that experience not in spite of it.