Two months ago I walked around the back of the empty cinema in Tunbridge Wells, and around the other empty buildings, the row of shops and former Doctor’s and Dentist’s Surgeries. It was obvious that people were sleeping out here, in amongst the weeds. Another walk this week showed the situation is the same, and now the nights are longer and much cooler; we approach winter.
I also started to think about the gentleman who I found in the Kempster’s funeral ledger; who had died in 1914, who had been crippled in the Charge of the Light Brigade, and lived in a house very near to mine. I had been hoping the great charitable British Victorians had taken more care of their poor and helpless, but a quick look at Booth’s reports shows not. The London Embankment seems to have been full of vagabonds and dossers, looking for work but unhoused. The area between Temple and Blackfriars fell under the control of Civic Fathers, men who almost “adopted” children with inadequate fathers and cared for them. They also cared for adults in much the same way as they would children, but the people in their care seemed to be sleeping on benches and the pavements, with little to cover themselves at night. Those unable to find work could apply to be admitted to “The Workhouse”
I was then wondering about care during the 1930s, when George Orwell was writing “Down and Out in Paris and London”, but it seems that at the moment our numbers of homeless and those needing food aid are higher than in the 1930s.
An excellent article on the website of Homeless Charity “Porchlight”
explains the problems we currently face, highlighted by the spending of our “inspire a generation” Olympics.
So what would you do if you were homeless in Tunbridge Wells? Firstly you seem to need a computer to access the council advice page, but once there, a lot of information is provided, and several places currently able to offer food and help to those that need it. But if you found yourself without a bed for the night, would you know what to do?
Thank you to the pages from