When I was a kid I used to be scared of homeless people on the street, because I didn’t understand them. I didn’t know why some people would choose to sleep on the street when they could have a nice house. I was naive.
I grew up and realised that being homeless was not a choice, but I still didn’t understand how it happened. Many of us get told to give homeless people food and not money because they will spend the money on drugs. Which seemed like good advice in high school, before I realised the damage caused by the labels ‘homeless’ and ‘drug addict’ being interchangeable.
That was all I knew about homeless people for a long time. They didn’t choose to be homeless and they were probably on drugs. That was until I started asking questions about the homelessness problem.
According to Shelter, “Around 13,650 households were accepted as homeless by their councils last year, a 14 percent increase on the previous year. The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England rose to 58,590 in 2013/14, the highest it’s been for five years.” With the homeless problem increasing it begs the question; why?
The majority of research points to a combination of increased house prices, leading to increased rent as people decide not to buy property, loose regulations on landlords and tenants rights and a lack of support for people facing homelessness.
So what can be done? Charities, such as Shelter, offer advice on dealing with a homeless crisis as well as information on alternative accommodation. Help the homeless: Northwest & Manchester Angels run events to help the homeless in Manchester, which students are more than able to get involved with.
Understanding is half the battle, and a warm pasty is the rest. Help the homeless, you have the power.
Helen is studying English and Film and wants to use her voice to bring important issues to light.