Last night I watched the last of the films I was bought as Christmas presents. It was Stuart: A Life Backwards, a 2008 BBC drama about Stuart (Tom Hardy), a homeless man befriended by Cambridge toff and writer Alexander (Benedict Cumberbatch).
It’s a moving story about how Alexander tries to unravel what drives a man to drink, drugs and homelessness. It’s startling and incredible. It left me completely in awe of both leads as actors and made me question my own attitude towards the homeless.
I will always give change to the homeless. This is going to sound controversial but I don’t care if they are spending it on drink or drugs. If that is where they choose to seek comfort then so be it. Watching Stuart last night I realised there is a reason people end up in that situation, they don’t just run away from home, a lot of them have faced terrible pasts, terrible childhoods and they are existing in the only option available to them.
I think there is still an incredible stigma around being homeless, as though they are beggars of nineteenth century literature. Sat on that box or in that sleeping bag is a person, and they should be treated as such.