How We Can Help The Homeless
It’s easy to feel superior to those who find themselves homeless – after all, you’re probably secure in your job/home life, and who don’t have savings for a rainy day? But what happens if your job disappears, or you experience a relationship breakdown? You might be one of the huge numbers of victims of domestic violence and abuse. Your rainy day might become monsoon season, and suddenly that pot of cash you had to tide you over gets washed away in the flood. If you are one of the fortunate ones, then there are ways you can help.
There are hundreds of complex reasons people become homeless. James has lived in Bute Park in Cardiff for over a decade after his relationship with his family broke down. Louisa was made homeless and lives in emergency accommodation with her two children, despite the fact she has a job as a primary school teacher. The charity Shelter claims that 41% of homeless households are in paid work. In London, the figure is 47%. The reasons for homelessness aren’t straightforward. Therefore, the best thing you can do to help the homeless is to educate yourself.
Show some respect
The easiest thing in the world to do is to walk on by and pretend you haven’t seen them. After all, you wouldn’t want them to ask for cash or, even worse, engage in conversation with you when you’re rushing to get to your next meeting or to pick the kids up from school. Many of those who have experienced homelessness say it is the loss of dignity that is the hardest to bear. It costs nothing to remember their humanity, and still less to say: “good morning”.
Be ready to help
You can help by carrying gift cards from fast food chains, local coffee shops, or grocery stores, and gifting them to a homeless person. Granola bars can be well-received, or bottles of water. Socks & Chocs are a charity who aim to collect warm and dry socks, and chocolate, for people on the streets of Birmingham. It might seem frivolous, but it is a way of reminding someone that they’re important, and meeting their not quite basic, but still very important, needs.
Help the furry friends
For some people living on the streets, having a pet brings a small measure of comfort and protection. Some of those pets would have been made homeless with their owner. If you feel uncomfortable donating money, you could always buy some food for their pet – or notify them of whatever local provision there might be in your area for free veterinary treatment.
Help them find shelter
The Government works with charities and churches to provide emergency cold weather shelters for the homeless during freezing weather, and the StreetLink app can be used to notify the relevant bodies that there is someone sleeping rough and put them in touch with the appropriate local services. You can also direct them to warmer places to sleep if they’re not inclined to work with those organisations.
The subject of homelessness is a frightening one because it could happen to any of us, at any time. Knowing how to help those in need might also be of use should you ever find yourself in the same position. But always offer to help, rather than imposing it on someone who may not be comfortable receiving it. You might get a buzz from it, but it’s not about you.