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We would like to introduce you to our new addition to Soldiers Off The Street: Neil Jackson CIOJ accredited photojournalist.
'I believe that certain issues should be dragged into the open, and if I'm available or stumble across a story, I do what I can. We shouldn't just receive our world-view from rich global corporations, but from independent thinkers prepared to go out there where the truth lies. And it doesn't lie in reports on Jordan's bedroom antics or Jack Tweed's latest party.
'Editors who produce stories like this aren't news editors - they are publicists; PR men with few morals, no sense of news value or duty to inform their readers. That in itself is why these soldiers are on the streets: because their story has been tossed aside in favour of frivolous drivel.'
Neil Jackson's work can be viewed here (feel free to leave comments):
|Click photo to enlarge:||Write up:|
The Military Covenant!
I was taking night photographs in London, having returned from visiting Canada that day in March just gone, and I noticed an elderly homeless man outside Charing Cross station.
Despite my winter gear, it was cold; just above zero. The guy was wearing a thin coat, thin trousers, shoes. Dirty and smelling. He was shivering.
Later, the police came, waking us.
I was beginning to see the walls drawing in, the stunted horizon that was daily reality here; the next hot brew, the chance of a shower near Trafalgar Square, the dangers all around.
Of course it could.
Another One.The ancient-looking white bulbs of The Ritz told me where I was, and yet here was another one, sat right outside the prestigious location. More blatant this time. Full combats, Guards beret - Grenadier Guards.
His nose had been smeared round his face from a lifetime of kickings. I squatted down in front of him.
'What's your name, soldier?'
He turned to face me, taking me in. I'd dropped a faded olive Berghaus Vulcan to the deck.
'Ian. But folks call me Jack. Ian Horner.'
I shoved out my hand.
'Neil. What unit were you?'
'Ian. Grenadier Guards.'
And so he told me his story; service, Ulster, PTSD, scrapheap. Same as the rest. Only the conflicts, battlfields and incidents were different. But the same progression, the same descent.
Guardsman 'Jack' Horner told me a story that made me smile - among the toffs who visited The Ritz was a Guards General who knew Jack by sight.
How uncomfortable must that priviledged man have been to have to pause with his fancy companions as his former comrade acknowledged him.
The Guards club was just up the road towards Park Lane, so it was an unavoidable regular meeting.
I took his photograph, using flash and a long hand-held exposure. Again, we were virtually invisible. One smartly-dressed man walked over, handing Jack a wrapped Chinese.
'You need it more than me, mate.'
And then he disappeared inside.
'There's all sorts of forces on the streets, you know.'
I nodded, unsurprised. Screwed up by family, they migrated to the pseudo-family of the military. And then, once their use was over and their institutionalisation complete - they are tossed aside.
'There's paras, marines - one of my mates is an ex-SAS staff sergeant.'
Jesus. That was news. But what to do with it?
'Can you confirm that information, Jack?'
'I'll give you his number if you like.'
I saw both of them a few months later, myself up to no good as usual. Jack had been given a pasting by the police in the cells of Charing Cross after disrespecting a plastic policeman. It was on the Grenadier's annual remembrance day, and Jack had been celebrating. He met the wrong officious jobsworth, and so his face had been battered by the guy's affronted regular back-up.
Our work is only possible with the assistance of generous donations from you. Without donations from supporters such as yourself, the people who will benefit from Soldiers off the streets's services ex service personnel will be left to face their challenges with homelessness all alone. It is our belief that every ex service personnel dealing with homelessness deserves the support that we are ready and willing to give.
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