‘Professional begging earns loads.’ ‘I’ve seen her whip out her iPhone6’.
There’s been a 550% increase in people sleeping rough (North East Lincolnshire) in the last eight years showing that people do in fact need our genuine support and that homelessness isn’t always just a con.
Leaving only one inevitable solution. Info not income. Harbour Place, the YMCA, Grimsby Food Kitchen, The Salvation Army and so many more. They’re miracle workers for the homeless; some just don’t know they exist. Offering housing advice, nightly accommodation, hot meals which could be the build up to getting them off the streets providing we make them aware. Active Grimsby Telegraph readers know the danger, destruction, even death happening on our streets. Harbour Place has a solution: A night shelter operating 365 days a year accommodating up to 15 a night away from the dangerous outside world. Income isn’t always the best way, speak to them, reach out and show them you care. Info not income.
It’s time to think of the physical side. A gesture of kindness could be the moral boost a rough sleeper needs. We could fulfill this gesture by working with our local coffee shops, who often give their regulars a loyalty card to stamp every time they come in eventually getting a free hot drink. However, people with busy working lives probably wouldn’t begrudge paying for their own drinks meaning we could set up a scheme with our local coffee shops to give these free drinks to a homeless or financially unstable individual. How much better would this make you feel as a person? The best thing is it costs absolutely nothing. To go further we could even create a wardrobe Wednesday in the local area where the homeless could come and take some donated clean clothes/ essentials that may otherwise be financially out of reach. Finally, we’d be working as a community again costing nothing but commitment.
As a child every Monday me and my parents would pass the homeless in the town centre, knowing in any moment we would have a hot tasty meal inside us. I’d stare at the dry mouths of these people perhaps not knowing where their next meal was coming from and I’d ask myself why? Today a man asks my Dad if I’d like to give him 50p. Pulling the face that little kids do when they’re thinking about something so hard causing them to look disgusted like he’d just robbed my lollypop. I stared for so long my parents eventually had to brush me away. Barely touching dinner, wondering why he was watching the day grow colder while I was watching a luxurious, flat screen tv. I was desperate to give him 50p but when we passed again he’d gone. All I did was wonder why if 8-year-old me feels it’s my responsibility why don’t the grownups?
Big Mama from the family film Fox and the Hound famously says, ‘‘it’s either education or elimination’’. She teaches the young fox Todd life skills he eventually needs as he later becomes homeless. Perhaps the one thing that will allow us to see homelessness as a thing of the past could be education. It’s crucial we teach our children the value of budgeting preparing them for bigger responsibilities e.g. mortgages, rent, study fees etc… Studies found more than a third of university students don’t have enough to eat and lack stable housing due to study fees. Could your child confide in you if they were struggling mentally? In 2015 32% of reported mental health issues were that of homeless people. PSHE has a whole section dedicated to society but little on homelessness. Making it compulsory for homelessness and the causes to be taught in PSHE could prevent homelessness even happening through early intervention. Young individuals would know what to do if they found themselves on the brink of becoming homeless and they’d have respect for the homeless realizing they could be in their situation for reasons beyond their control.
You may think they’re polluting our streets. You may think they’re an embarrassment for tourists. Well why don’t you ask yourself where else can they go? They can go home with your help.
Article by Charlotte – a Young Reporter
First appeared in the Grimsby Telegraph 26th March 2019.