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Cathy's Not Come Home

Twenty five years ago the film of Jeremy Sandford's screenplay 'Cathy Come Home' pricked the conscience of the Nation. Over 22 million viewers saw the first two showings, three months apart. The film won many awards. There followed dramatic changes in official policy towards housing and homelessness, and the setting up of Shelter.

Now, a quarter century later, Sandford has returned to those themes that originally inspired him. Once again he has built up a seering dossier on how homeless people and especially homeless families are being treated in Britain - in ways very different though often equally as tragic as in those far off days. And on the true extent of Britain's housing crisis, perhaps the worst in Europe.

And once again he has embarked on the screenplay for a blockbuster film to be shot entirely on location that will awaken both anger and tears through its kaleidoscopic inditement of the treatment of today's thousands of dispossesed children, mothers and fathers, for whom in contemporary Britain there can be found no home.

Once again the story concerns a young British mother and her children and her attempts to keep her tragic little family together. Once again her name is Cathy. But - and it is a big but - times have changed since that heartbreaking struggle of that other Cathy twenty five years ago.

There has been a vast increase in the number of homeless. There have been almost total changes - often for the worse - in the actual treatment of homeless families. There has been a mass collapse of conventional family morality. And a change in the typical young woman that Jeremy Sandford has chosen as his new heroine.

The original Cathy was helpless, a victim. Much more, as this film progresses, this new Cathy comes to question the values of a society that can allow ordinary children, mothers and fathers, to become homeless on so vast a scale, when there are over a million homes empty.

There has been feminism since the original Cathy. There can be few women who have not been influenced, in however small a way, by it. This one is to become far more an activist. This one is to become to many people a pain in the arse. This one will be a squatter. This one is a fighter.

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