I was running and listening to Bob Dylan on my headphones. “Like a Rolling Stone”. The run was longer than usual, part of the build up to the Great North Run in September.
The words of the refrain alerted me to the pertinence of this song to my training.
How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home?
Like a complete unknown?
Like a rolling stone?
I am running the Great North Run for the charity Shelter. One of the leading charities campaigning to eliminate homelessness.
I don’t know how it feels to have no home, but I speak to many people who have experienced the raw edge of homelessness. I am chairman of a charity called Restore (York) which provides supported housing for people who are homeless.
Dylan’s words were penned in the 1960s – I was a teenager. Now, over 50 years later the problem of people being homeless is still with us. I don’t think homelessness figures were collected in the 60s to tell us how many people were without a home. Homeless people were ‘a complete unknown‘. Today we do count them but that doesn’t solve the problem. To be a number is hardly progress from being ‘a complete unknown‘ unless houses are built and affordable for the people who need a home. We are not building enough houses. We are still not providing enough care and support for people who are homeless. The numbers have increased year on year for the last 7 years. This is unacceptable.
Shelter has been offering advice, researching and campaigning on behalf of homeless people for almost as long as Dylan has been singing his song.
Subsequent refrains in the song use the line With no direction home. My sat nav has a HOME button which is programmed with my home address. One press and the route home is displayed on the screen with an estimate of the time I will arrive there. Homeless people have no address to preset that button. No direction home, like a rolling stone
I’ve been listening to this song since my youth – but it took a moment in time on a training run for the cry of the refrain to touch my heart. It’s just a small thing, but a helpful one, to donate to Shelter so that they can raise their game to end homelessness.