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Not enough is being done to help the homeless in this country - it's time to act


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What is Britain? I mean, what comes to mind when you think of Britain. A modern nation? A technologically advanced society? A rich nation? A prosperous one? Yet we have an increasing number of people in poverty and an embarrasingly high and increasing rate of homelessness, which (to paraphrase the Big Issue) is shameful.

It is estimated that around a quarter of a million people are homeless and sleeping rough across Britain. According to the charity Crisis that number is set to rise by 76% in the next decade, unless the government decides to take action to tackle this increasingly apparent social issue.

But what counts as action? Investment in charities? Maybe some investment in temporary accomodation, or even better increased investment in social care? Surely investing in anti-homeless measures, which is what two councils have embarked upon within the past year, does not count as action to help aid the crisis.

In January 2018 it was reported that Bournemouth Borough Council had installed anti-homeless bench bars to prevent rough sleepers, at a cost of £3,650. Similarly in November, it was reported by the BBC that Bristol City Council had installed bollards to prevent homeless people from begging and sleeping in a city car park. 

Now I am no expert, but how exactly does installing measures such as the ones mentioned above help those who are homeless? Surely it is a better use of money to invest in other schemes to aid those who are arguably some of the most vulnerable within our society. Prevention, after all, is always going to be better than a misguided attempt at a hiding the problem. 

The homeless are people too, something which is all to easy to forget. Introducing 'anti-homeless' measures such as bars on benches, bollards or spikes are no different to how animals such as pigeons are combated across towns within the UK, and this itself is shameful. 

Image Credit: Quinntheislander on Pixabday

How many people do you walk past in the street who are sleeping rough? I know I walk past dozens each day, and that is just in one area. It is easy to brand them as drug addicts, alcoholics or just general stains on our ever so 'perfect and modern society', when this is just not the case. People see it as not being their perogotive to help, but try an put yourself in their shoes. If you were homeless you would want help to get your life on track, you would not want to be ignored or abandoned by the state - which in my eyes is happening far too often. 

All people who are homeless have a story. Next time you see someone in the street who is sleeping rough or begging, why don't you have a brief conversation, or buy them some warm food or drink? Because I know you would want that if you were in that person's shoes. Being homeless puts a huge strain on mental health, and a simple act can help make those suffering feel slightly better. Admittedly it is not much, but small things can make a huge difference to someone who is vulnerable.

People often assume that it is the invivdual's fault for being homeless, and they are making no effort to improve their situation. However being homeless and a rough sleeper it is almost impossible to access services to improve their situation, particularly with no fixed address. With no address, how are you supposed to possess bank account, required for work or to obtain benefits? Even healthcare is hard to come by, which is a basic right of everyone in this country.

What exactly causes homelessness?

There are multiple different issues that might be behind someone's situation. There are social reasons such as lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment, in addition to life events that might lead to people resorting to life on the streets. People should be more aware of the causes behind homeless, rather than accepting preconceptions that are too easily flaunted across the media and society as a whole. 

Those who have had a comfortable life to date, myself included, take what we have for granted - and this is wrong. 

We as a society on a whole should be doing more to help those in need. 

The government for one should stop the childlike infighting we are so use to in the House of Commons, and unite to stop an ever increasing crisis. The homeless are not a stain on society; it is those in charge who have created a society where being homeless and sleeping rough is the only solution. Britain, a rich and developed country, should now be investigated by the UN for our increasing levels of poverty.

It infuriates me that we are more concerned about getting the best deal for Brexit and our global image rather than focusing on the more important domestic issues our nation faces.

Just remember next time you see some one sleeping rough do not assume, rather try make a difference -no matter how small.

If you're in a position to help visit Crisis, The Big Issue or Shelter to see how you can make a difference.

Lead Image Credit: Quinntheislander on Pixabday

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