At first glance, this tweet could have been written by any melancholy teenager: “Tonight, a flickering flame warms my heart drenched by this rainy day”. But it takes on a whole new meaning when you realize it was written by a homeless man, one of five in France to have been given smartphones in order to tweet about their lives for six months.
Sebastien shared this photo of his candlelit night.
Manu in Paris, Patrick and Ryan in Metz, and Nicolas and Sebastien in Bourges were selected by a group of national charities that are working to dispel stereotypes about homelessness. The men have been tweeting for a week now, using the hashtag #tweets2rue (“tweets from the street”). For the most part, they sound like average Twitter users, sharing random thoughts and jokes; but at times, their struggles become apparent:
“I’m worried because I don’t know where I’m going to sleep tonight”
“As we say in the street: open umbrellas = closed wallet”
“I managed to get back in touch with my father, what pure joy to find out that all is well, an extra smile today ;)”
They have also been tweeting some photos of their daily life. Here are a few of those they’ve shared so far:
"A new day begins. What will it be like? Only I can decide"
"A few madeleines!"
"My kind of electricity"
"The first team [of volunteers distributing canned goods]"
"Colours that warm the heart at the Bourges shelter"
"A zen moment"
According to the latest national statistics, there are about 141,000 homeless people in France; their number has increased by 50 percent since 2001. Experts blame this trend chiefly on the economic crisis. Homelessness has increased in all European countries over the past 5 years, save for the Netherlands and Finland.