I don’t suppose you’ve any spare change, sir? A bit of money, just to buy some food, miss?
I’ve said those words so many times but it never works. I never get anything, not a penny. People just don’t care about us, the teenagers in the street. They’re all convinced – by the media, as likely as not – that it’s our own fault we’re homeless. Some of them think we’re just begging so we can buy drugs or alcohol.
And maybe it’s true of some of the others, but it’s not true of me. I beg because I’m starving to death. I beg because I’ve no money and no way of getting any. After all, I’m too young to get a job. And who would take me? I’ve no qualifications, no certificates. I left school when I was thirteen so I’ve got no GCSEs. I haven’t got anything to say that I’m at all intelligent.
It’s not even my fault that here I am, living in the gutter. I was chucked out of my home by my step dad. That sounds clichéd. I guess perhaps it is. But it’s true, anyway. It happens to a lot of us. Our parents divorce, marry again, and the new parent doesn’t want us. We’re a reminder of who their partner really is: a woman who has got kids to look after, and whose kids need their money to live.
So Mark, well, he took the easy way out. He chucked me out. I don’t know what he told my mother but she hasn’t contacted me. Not that I’d know. My phone ran out of battery a few weeks ago and I’ve got no electricity to charge it again, so I have to make do without. To be honest, I’m glad. I’d miss Mum more if I could speak to her.
I miss her cooking most of all at the moment. She used to make these huge meals, and we could never finish them. I remember leaving loads on the plate. If you gave me those leftovers now, I’d eat them without a second thought.
I’m so hungry. I’m hungry enough that I’ll eat bread that’s past its date, chucked out by the supermarket for being stale. I’m hungry enough that I’ve got no shame. I’ll go up to people and ask for food. I don’t limit myself to sitting here pathetically. I get out there.
It’s the only way, really. I know from experience that sitting flat on your bum really doesn’t help. You don’t get anything.
So now I really need some money, and the twenty pence that the old man gave me as he walked past isn’t going to help. I just have to wait until someone sympathetic comes along and gives me a hand.