A report shows over a third of UK households are one month away from potential homelessness without the support of family and friends. If you lost your job, would you have the savings to pay the rent?
Shelter has said in a recent study around three million people in England are one pay cheque away from losing their homes because they cannot pay the rent. Shelter also states that just under half of working people living in privately rented homes in England would be unable to afford the rent for more than a month if they lost their job.
There are a number of reasons people end up living on the streets, not just the loss of their income. Loss of a loved one, a debilitating physical or mental illness, falling into addiction, or a combination of these are the main causes.
There is a huge amount of people that are living on a knife-edge. Homelessness could happen to us! We are a lot more vulnerable than we think we are. So what can you do to help?
Here are three ways you can help the homeless:
- Remember the person behind the homelessness. Homeless people are real people just like you and me. The feeling of pain, cold, shame, loneliness, despair and vulnerability are all very real. By just saying hello or acknowledging a person can make a real difference. Don’t ignore people on the street. The worst feeling a person can have on the street is that they are invisible. Loneliness on the streets is the biggest issue in London and in other cities. The homeless need your compassion. If you pass by someone regularly you have a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in their lives.
- Give a helping hand. There are lots of articles out there about whether you should give money or not. Don’t fall into the trap that all homeless people will spend their money on alcohol and drugs or that they have a home but are in some kind of begging scam. I would say do give money, the majority of people are genuine homeless people and are in a desperate plight and they need money to get by. Give money, buy food, buy coffee, give your time, volunteer, do what you can, give what you can.
- Be an advocate. Change the stigma, find out how you can help advocate the local homeless project in your area. Green Pastures have partners throughout the UK where you could volunteer, become a befriender, help with mentoring, CV writing, or help by helping out with activities for the residents. What supplies do they need? Can you source these? You could encourage your church to become a partner and start a supported housing project. Get in touch to find out more. Be proactive on social media in promoting positive posts about homelessness and the need for the council and government to act. Be an advocate in your actions, lead by example, be kind to the homeless, reach out and help someone.
Andy Partridge, Partner Liaison