All tours may be suspended for now, but our guides and trainees are staying engaged and the team at Invisible Cities keeps supporting them!
Today, we are hearing from Paul, based in Edinburgh as he reflects on what the COVID-19 Pandemic means for homeless people. Here is what he says:
"During these strange and dangerous times, I realise how lucky I am to have a house now and what it means for homeless people to safely distance yourself. Bear in mind that there are different types of homelessness: from rough sleeping, to staying in a Bed and Breakfast, hostels and so on.
I’ve been homeless over 10 times, I’ve slept in doorways, cars, warehouses, Campervans and tents. How can you safely distance yourself if you are homeless? I have been really lucky during my periods of homelessness and I didn’t have too many bad experiences but there was one time when I was actually scared for my life. I was homeless a few years ago and I was living in a tent in Spain, near Estepona, when a massive thunderstorm appeared suddenly. It was terrifying; the biggest storm to hit Spain in over 30 years, I found out the next day that 2 people unfortunately died during the storm, a sex worker who was sleeping in a basement, she couldn’t get out in time when it flooded and another person got trapped in their car and drowned too. I had a car with me and I had to take cover inside until the storm eventually passed over. I still have a video I made during the storm on my phone! My tent got flooded and a lot of my belongings were soaked, it took me days to dry out.
I had to borrow money from my sister shortly after this happened and I booked a flight back to Scotland. My car is still there with most of my personal belongings in it. It really is frustrating knowing that my car is in Spain and I have no way of getting it back any time soon.
So back to today and it came back into my mind again how lucky we are to have somewhere to safely distance ourselves. Edinburgh and Glasgow have recently housed rough sleepers in hotels that are lying empty due to this crisis so something positive is coming out of this dire situation.
The last time I was homeless I was lucky and I got housed in a Edinburgh Council run homeless hostel where you shared the house with 2 others and got your own room but you had to share the bathroom and kitchen facilities with 2 strangers. You weren’t allowed visitors or even to go to your housemates' rooms in same house.
Living like this is pretty lonely already so I can’t imagine what it is like during this period when you are only allowed out once a day for an hour.
My sister was homeless and got housed in a Bed and Breakfast in Edinburgh. She left it about a year ago and she still has anxiety over her experience there, so I cannot imagine what the people who are in these situations must be feeling right now.
Reflecting on all of this definitely reminded me that I am lucky even though this is also a stressful period for me and for Invisible Cities. Let's all spare a thought for homeless people during this time and I would urge you to consider helping us out too!
Thanks for reading and hopefully catch up with you on Zoom for a Virtual Tour of Edinburgh.