In the first part of this blog about homelessness, I discussed some of the causes and what we can do to help people who find them in this situation. Homelessness continues to be a worldwide issue. In this blog, I am going to discuss the cycle of homelessness and what options are available within the UK.
The Cycle of Homelessness
According to Citizens Advice, people seeking assistance with homelessness issues has increased by 14%. It is not only people who are living on the streets that are considered to be homeless. It also includes those temporarily living with family or friends (sofa surfing) and people living in unreasonable or dangerous accommodation.
According to www.gov.uk the causes of homelessness are typically described as either structural or individual factors. These can be connected or standalone issues and include poverty, inequality, housing supply and affordability, access to social security and employment issues (structural) or poor physical health, mental health, drug and alcohol problems, bereavement, relationship breakdown, experience of care or prison and refugees (individual).
Taking unemployment as an example, the cycle begins in being unable to pay the bills that leads to losing ones home. The obvious solution to this is to find another job, but this is extremely challenging without an address. As time passes, self-esteem and wellbeing (physical and mental) further exacerbate the cycle, often leading to drug and alcohol dependency to numb the pain of the experience. Children who are brought up in this environment then lack the education that they require to give them the best opportunities in their adulthood. They are often only able to find low paid work, which then does not provide enough income for them to rent or buy their own home. Now they are also in the cycle.
Breaking the Cycle
There are many charitable organisations and government programmes to tackle the issue of homelessness but it isn’t always straightforward leading to repeat homelessness.
On 30 March 2018, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid set out a bold cross-government plan of action to significantly reduce the number of people sleeping rough, linked to the Homelessness Reduction Act. The new package of measures includes a new Rough Sleeping Team consisting of experts with specialist knowledge across a wide range of areas from housing, mental health to addiction. This is backed up with a £30 million fund for 2018 to 2019 and an additional £100,000 funding to support Rough Sleeping workers across the country.
A well-known charity is The Big Issue. The magazine was launched in 1991, in response to the growing numbers of rough sleepers on the streets of London. They offer people the opportunity to earn a legitimate income through selling the magazine to the public. They buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50. As we head towards a more and more cashless society, The Big Issue is keeping pace with technological developments providing up to 20 vendors across 5 cities with card readers.
The world famous Salvation Army provide various forms of support such as accommodation in lifehouses, drop in centres, addiction support and assistance in finding work. Another popular organization, Shelter offers face-to-face services, a national helpline with online advice and legal support. A simple Internet search will provide many other forms of support available. The key is reaching out to those in need and directing them to the people that can help.
What can we do?
In my previous blog I discussed some ideas such as buying food and drink as well as donating clothing and toiletries.
Streetlink are an organization that enables members of the public to connect rough sleepers with the local services that can support them. This is done by signing up on their website and providing the details of the person you wish to connect. The more information you can provide the easier it will be for them to locate them. With the colder weather, this service becomes even more valuable.
Naturally, all these charities and organizations require funding. A simple monthly donation of even £1 will make an impact. Don’t forget to Gift Aid any donations where appropriate.
Lastly, as previously discussed we can also give our time. It’s free to give but gratefully received. Whether it is simply stopping by to chat to someone or volunteering in some way, we can all find time in our lives to give. I count my blessings every day that I have the life I have. Everyone deserves the same opportunities in life and we can all personally make a difference.
About the author: Stuart Dickson’s passion for personal development began in September 2013, when he joined a Network Marketing Company. Part of his development is increasing his spirituality and the many ways of doing this. His first blog, Happy Monday People was born from a project that came about from his personal development journey facebook.com/Happylifepeople
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