Who ends up homeless and why?
What makes Haven for the Homeless different to anyone else?
Why should we help them?
‘The only difference between me and this homeless man is my job.’
No one should have to sleep on the streets. There are currently over 300,000 homeless people in
London alone and more than 450 people died on the streets in the UK last year. In London, we feel
removed from homelessness, with many people holding a ‘that will never be me’ view but with
rough sleeping in Britain forecast to rise by 76% in the next decade, that is no longer the case.
There is no single cause or solution for homelessness. People find themselves on the streets for various reasons that could include escaping an abusive relationship, job loss or debt. Removing the stigma surrounding homelessness is important as homeless people are still people. The definition of ‘humane’ is ‘having or showing compassion or benevolence’ If nothing else, let us at least be humane. The world’s population is approaching 8 billion and every one of those people deserves a home and equal opportunities.
The stigma currently surrounding homelessness is a big issue. Homeless people are often stereotyped
as violent and dangerous. However, everyone has a different story, and this is why there
isn’t one single solution. No one has the ability to help everyone. Much of homelessness is hidden,
for example, victims of human trafficking or mothers who have escaped abusive relationships often
have no choice but to stay in dangerous situations.
Most people don’t choose to be homeless. Being homeless affects every part of your life. Sleeping outside or juggling an ever-changing network of sofas and floors is challenging and exhausting. Mental health issues can be easily exacerbated. Dealing with all of this while you're still young, trying to study and get qualifications, trying to hold down a job or care for children, is more than most of us could handle.
We believe that it is crucial that we work towards removing the stigma in order to intervene early and support homeless people. Without support and opportunities, the homeless people of today are still going to be the homeless people of tomorrow.
While short term solutions, such as tents, hot meals and warm clothes make life on the streets a bit more bearable, we need to look at the future and focus on people’s well-being and education before helping them find employment in order to be able to afford a home. Housing people temporarily traps them. It doesn’t solve the issue but simply hides it. We need to enable people to reintegrate into society by giving them skills and opportunities. This is why working with young people to remove the stigma is so crucial to our cause. Integration is impossible without acceptance.
We need to remind ourselves that homeless people are still people, and everyone deserves a second chance. No one plans on being homeless and not enough is being done to prevent people losing their homes, so it is our responsibility to work with people that need our help. Not everyone is presented with the same opportunities in life so we must use what we have to benefit others. Nothing is straight forward or easy, but something has to be done. It’s not just a Haven for the homeless it’s hope for the brave.