Since 2004, Steve has given his life purpose by fighting the status quo and bureaucracy gone wrong, bureaucracy that ignores both pragmatism and compassion. He has tackled homelessness, pollution and housing conditions as well as being a support for individuals struggling to balance the necessities of life.
If I see injustice, I will stand up to it
He helps with childcare, gives lifts to people trying to make ends meet with multiple jobs, helps fill out forms – he is a gruff, bluff, belligerent support to people.
Growing up in the Seventies, the primetime mass media had more stories like this, helping create a richer picture of our society, making it harder to dismiss the marginalised via caricature.
Shortly before the court battle, something Steve is looking forward to, the launderette is open 24 hours again. He has his victory, though feels a little robbed from not having his chance to fight face to face.
And now we have to move from the present tense to the past.
He fought for people who had given up on the system or who had fallen through the cracks.
This show is a celebration of Steve. Sadly, it is also a eulogy. During the making of the documentary, Steve died. His many ailments, including diabetes and bronchial pneumonia, ended his life. For a man who didn’t neglect others, his death was considered to have been caused by self-neglect. All over the city of Bristol, scrawled graffiti appeared in paint and marker pen, “Rest in peace, Steve Norman, we’ll keep fighting”.
Described as relentless, he has infected others with his relentlessness and his passion for a fight. He fought for people who had given up on the system or who had fallen through the cracks.
Steve used his energy and confidence to inspire those who were unsure, those who lacked the confidence to take on councils and injustices. One young woman who had rarely attended school and never learnt to read was given The Diary of Anne Frank by Steve so she could read it on her phone. Each week, he would ask if she’d read more. He gave her the confidence to know there were things she could do that she thought would never be in her reach. Now she attends the council meetings, watches, listens and heckles now Steve can’t.
In the final words of his family: “We’re not going to be burying Steve, we’ll be planting seeds for the next generation.”