It is raining.
I think it is fair to say that if we were not so close to finishing we would be pretty gutted about the weather. We are also both very glad that we made hay while the sun shone on Thursday and have more than enough money to live on, because nobody is going to want to have their car washed in Oxford today! James now has shoe around his holes on his feet, meaning they wet enough washing cars let alone when it is actually raining. Arguably though, the person who suffers most from this is Chris who has to put up with the smell. The process of getting wet stuff dry is proving pretty difficult.
After we left the library yesterday, we headed up to uni parks for a chill in the afternoon. On the way we met Micky again, who we invited for lunch on Sunday. Micky then showed us the left pocket of his tracksuit bottoms in which he had kept his coppers all week and told us that he was planning to donate them to the causes before we left. We both found this incredibly humbling and touching. We then bumped into a few more people on Cornmarket street, as you always do in Oxford, before heading up to the parks to meet John for the video diary. As viewers of this will know, we the called NHS direct to find out if there ways anything that could be done for James's feet. Which at this point were getting rather painful. It turns out that there is no NHS walk in centre in Oxford. James was advised to go to a pharmacist so see what they said and to consult with his GP. Obviously, homeless people don't generally have GP's and the amount of help pharmacists can give is quite limited. Also, when we visited the Gap project the volunteer there said that the visiting doctor and nurse services there were under used. There therefore seems to be, from our experience, a problem in terms of the ability of the homeless community to access health services. There is However a centre on Luther street that is designed for their needs but you need to be both registered and reefed to from the street services.
At the time of writing we have been unable to find any service in the City where we can get a shower. A couple of projects have been mentioned to us but so far our investigation into them has proved fruitless. Last night, in the Market street public toilets we used our spare sponge to try and give ourselves a bit of a clean. Chris, luckily for him, got to go first. Again this experience didn't really seem that bad, we both know that we are about 30 hours away from a nice warm power shower and our beds. The fact that we are pinning for our creature comforts so much does show that despite the experience of and in some parts enjoyment of this week, we are both greatly looking forward to going home.
When we went to use the public toilet this morning, two men were occupying cubicles to inject heroin. James went in did his business, and left asap, wanting to avoid them. But as we were leaving one of them stopped him, recognising him from earlier in the week and asked him if he had found a place to stay and directed him towards the night shelter and the other homeless services. This act of pastoral care served as an important reminder that despite all the problems of drug abuse, heroin does not make you a bad person.
Tonight, we will attempt for the final time to find someone to kip down with in the city centre. Though it does appear and the majority of the people who have befriend us have the sense and the means to stay out of that part of town on a Saturday night.
Thanks for reading, we are looking forward to seeing you all soon!
Chris and James