Homelessness

13 Nov

I have meant to write my thoughts on this subject for a very long time. This subject is a real passion in my life and I have had many thoughts I wanted to write out.

If I was to ask you what your view on homelessness is, what would you say?

If I asked you why you think people are homeless, what would you answer?

What thoughts run through your mind when you walk past “homeless” people on the streets?

Please take time to read my blog below.

Since starting at a Homeless Night Shelter in 2008, I can honestly say my views and perspectives have been completely changed. I see people from all walks of life, all ages, ethnicity, people who you would walk past on the street and never put into the homeless category as such.

Before volunteering in this area of work I had no time for homeless people, not necessarily intentionally it was something I never thought about in my daily life. Most people I would see out on the street would be very drunk and my view would be why did they let themselves get into that position, how very shallow minded I was.

Homelessness has become a big passion in life for people who in many ways seem like they have been outcasted of society. Having met a number of different people over the past few years, I can honestly say I am ashamed as my previous thoughts and views on this subject. I have learnt and seen that the majority of people do not become alcoholics because they can’t be bothered to work or have spent all their money on alcohol and drugs. In fact alcohol and substance abuse can be something that comes later in the stresses and loneliness of life on the streets. It is a well known fact that people become homeless for various reasons whether this be woman escaping abusive relationships, young people fleeing abusive homes or breakdown in relationships, loss of employment, these are just a few to name. These are people ranging anything from 18 (or under) to anything beyond 60s.

One of the main reasons for writing on this subject is to give people a sense of understanding in a subject that seems to almost be invisible. Another reason is having heard views stated to me labelling every individual the same, because they have seen one drunk, they are all drunks. This is categorically untrue. When I first applied at the night shelter I was pre-warned that people may come in drunk or high from substance abuse, but then I was asked the question, if I was alone, afraid not knowing where I would be one day from the next would I indulge in something to give me some comfort?! I not sure I could answer no. Many people will suffer mental health problems through homeless, low self-esteem, low confidence. It is also a sad well known fact that people on the streets face more violence and abuse than most.

I have met so many characters, that are so funny and cheerful despite their circumstance. Being a volunteer can be so rewarding in that it sends the message that people do care, and they are loved. On a trip to London recently I saw so many young people sitting in sleeping bags on the streets with their dogs for companionship. Whilst heading home to my family I couldn’t stop thinking about these people. Whilst I knew I was going home to a loving family, a warm bed I had tears in my eyes knowing that would be their home for the night. I wished I could give people the security they need.

It has made me so much more thankful for my family, my parents who although I am 25 will still ring me when I am slightly late and wonder where I am. I have the saftey and comfort of a warm bed at night and I find it hard to think that in this day in age there are people out there as I write still longing for a loving home and a secure job, but the fear is, is that this problem will only get worse with the economic crisis.

Each one of us could easily end up in this position, without supportive families, and friends, we should be thankful each day for what we have. I urge people not to just walk past a Big Issue sellar next time you are in town, because you think the magazine is boring, I challenge you to buy one and help towards a cause that really is a Big Issue, help people not invisible in society but feel included. It is small things like this that can really help people on the road to recovery.


							

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