Sign of the Times-0538 Image by Christine Renney

Basildon Town Centre is dominated by a huge block of flats named Brook House which was originally designed to sell to high-fliers. Over the years they have been used to house those amongst us who, for whatever reasons, are not high-fliers but are forced to be high-rise tenants. There were security guards on the main entrance to the flats so that says something. I managed to take a few images but this lady was the only person I saw, on either side of the tower block which, for England, is huge and cold. Strangely, I spoke to a work colleague about this building and he knows it, being an ex-Basildonian, and at one time had considered buying a flat there for £15,000 – I think that figure says it all as he is only in his early thirties.



Sign of the Times-0137 Image by Christine Renney 2015

I spoke with this very dedicated and personable young man who is saturated in empathy and a sense of responsibility toward those most affected by the appalling actions of City banks and their employees who still have not paid for the damage they have caused. Instead, the Government in this country seeks to blame and punish the poor, yet again, for the greed of the few.
He had been camping out for a few days before being hassled by the local police, who asked him for his name and date of birth. When he refused, they told him that he looked (without the mask obviously) like a man who was wanted for burglary. When he gave them the information they said he was not the man they were looking for. Well, if they have that much detail then they knew who they were looking for and it would hardly be a lone guy camping out by the castle walls, now would it? He was served a summons to appear in court for trespass.
This is fascism. He was not harming anyone, he hadn’t approached anyone. He was just carrying out a silent protest. I am grateful to him for doing what I could not.


Sign of the Times-1110320 Image by Christine Renney 2015

When I spoke with Daniel he told me that he had been homeless for some six weeks – I didn’t say anything but I have noticed that this the time period so many homeless people give. I think it is because they do not want me to feel that they are no-hopers, that they haven’t tried hard enough, that if they tell me they have been on the streets for months I will believe them to be useless. And of course, to tell me would be to tell themselves, over and over again.