16/01/14 The old home town looks the same…

Ok, I didn’t step down from the train – but I’m back in Corby – a new (ish) town in Northamptonshire that holds, give or take, 60 thousand folk.

I LOVE CORBY.

If there was a T-shirt, I’d be wearing it.

I’m here making a bit of a noise about the potential closure of Safe Haven, a crisis service for people with mental health problems.

I’d thought to myself – I could be walking in North Wales making a noise, meeting people on a day to day basis, telling them about mental ill health – or, I could, for a short time, become involved in this.

I’d had the philosophy that we have to choose our battles – however, in this time of austerity, in this time where mental health services in Corby have already been pared so far back, I think I need to get involved in all battles.

I’ve digressed – I love Corby – the people, a grand mix of immigrants from all over – my parents, like so many others, came down from North and central Scotland to work at the steelworks – a story repeated in Ireland, Wales, and a whole bunch of Eastern European countries.

I wandered through the town in a walk a mile stylie with Janice – the manager of Safe Haven. We met a woman who gets Janice to sign documents for stuff – she’d heard about the campaign – she’s a cheerleader in her spare time – if we need any cheerleading…? Too right we do! She gave us a good luck with Corby Radio smile – and off we went.

We met a man – he could be you, he could be me, who has used Safe Haven’s services – he tells me he has no idea what he would have done without them.

His story? He had a long term partner and a small business and a home together. He lost all of these when she died following a short illness and his world turned to shit.

What does a homeless man look like? You and I, we’re both wrong. He’s immaculately turned out wearing a shirt and tie.

Too proud to claim benefits – who can blame him with current attitudes – he’s homeless on the streets of Corby. I can only hope that my Paddington Bear hard stare will encourage him to get the help he deserves. In the meantime, Safe Haven will continue to prop him up.

We received a warm welcome as ever from Stewart at Corby Radio. He listened to the story and skilfully interviewed us both – helping us to get the story across.

As we walked out we met a guy I knew vaguely, who Janice knew well. An Eastern European with an absolutely brilliant accent. He told us a bit about himself – working for long hours – for nothing – volunteering – not because some government department tells him to, but because it makes him feel good in his heart. After years of poverty, using foodbanks and other services, he smiles at us – he’s got great news – he’s got work in an area he loves,that’ll exploit his artistic talents – I’m still smiling as I think about our chance meeting.

Corby.

You’d love it

Walk a mile

Chris

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This entry was posted in economy, government, hospitality, inequality, kindness, mental health, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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