The compassion bureaucrats

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 16.13.54Dalrymple points out that homelessness is

a source of employment for not negligible numbers of the middle classes.

He pays a visit to a hostel for the homeless sited in

a rather grand but disused and deconsecrated Victorian church.

He discovers that

there were 91 residents and 41 staff members, only a handful of whom had any direct contact with the objects of their ministrations.

The homeless

slept in dormitories in which there was no privacy whatever. There was a rank smell that every doctor recognises (but never records in the medical notes) as the smell of homelessness.

And then,

passing along a corridor and through a door with a combination lock to prevent untoward intrusions, one suddenly entered another world: the sanitised, air-conditioned (and airtight) world of the bureaucracy of compassion.

The number of offices,

all computerised, was astonishing.

The staff,

dressed in smart casual clothes, were absorbed in their tasks, earnestly peering into their computer screens, printing documents, and rushing off for urgent consultations with one another. The amount of activity was impressive, the sense of purpose evident.

It takes some effort for Dalrymple

to recall the residents I had encountered as I entered the hostel, scattered in what had been the churchyard.

They were

swaying if upright and snoring if horizontal, surrounded by empty cans and plastic bottles of 9% alcohol cider (which permits the highest alcohol-to-pence ratio available in England at the moment).


the hostel administrators made pie charts while the residents drank themselves into oblivion.

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