For the Joy of Reading: Home Ground

This book is a delight and, if you live in Glasgow, it is free from Glasgow Libraries.   It was written as part of the celebration of the Homeless World Cup that took place in Glasgow last year.   It was distributed at the Aye Write! Book Festival earlier this year.   Louise Welsh and Zoe Strachan have done a brilliant job as editors in bringing together established and new writers to explain the transformative power of something so simple as playing a game of football in the centre of a major city.

I am not going to pretend that every story is exceptionally well-written because that simply is not the case.   What I am going to say is that these stories will make you think about the issue of homelessness.   It will make you wonder why we, as a society, are not shocked by the fact that people are sleeping in our streets because they do not have anywhere better to go.   It will make you wonder why we, as a society, do not guarantee people a roof over their heads in the warm.   It will make you wonder why we, as a society, allow people to be reduced to begging on our streets.   It will make you wonder why we have become so heartless, so unthinking, so needlessly cruel.

That, in itself, is a considerable achievement.   This book creates a bond between its readers and the people in these stories.   It is to be hoped that the bond will then spread to the real people on the streets and that we, as a society, will recognise our responsibilities and our own best interests.   It is obviously so much better for all of us if we do not have to deal with an underclass that it is so marginalised in our society that people have to sleep on the streets.   It is so much better for all of us if the self-respect of people is not so undermined that they have no dignity, nowhere to turn, no hope.   That kind of society is not safe.

If only “Home Ground” could reach out to the opinion-makers in our society, it could have a considerable impact.   And the way to do that is through its readers raising the issue of homelessness so that those who make the decisions about how our society functions cannot ignore the arguments.   It is up to us.



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