In a month that’s widely regarded as the most depressing in the year, let’s raise awareness for those less fortunate than us by doing something that will bring benefit to both you and them. This week’s guest writer is Miranda Keast who works at The Passage, a homeless charity in London.
Last week was Poverty and Homelessness Action Week 2015, and Homelessness Sunday was on 18 January. These types of events provide the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about homelessness – what it really means, and how we can help people out of their homelessness.
Homelessness can be an extremely visible problem; on hearing the word ‘homeless’, many people will think of a person, usually a man, sitting or sleeping on cardboard on a pavement, perhaps with a duvet, a cup to collect donations from generous passers-by, and some bags. Sadly, this is an image that is all too familiar around London – according to statistics; homelessness is on the rise with 6,508 people recorded as sleeping rough in London in 2013/2014.
However, people are also homeless if they are moving around and staying with various friends and family (‘sofa surfing’), or if they are avoiding sleeping on the streets by, instead, wandering through the night or sleeping on buses, for example. These people are often thought of as the ‘hidden homeless’, because they are not as visible.
In fact, there are many aspects of homelessness that aren’t visible: the loneliness, the feeling of not belonging anywhere, of being apart from society, the tiring daily struggle of getting by.
The Passage’s mission is to provide the resources that encourage, inspire and challenge homeless people to transform their lives. We are based in London but we work with over 2,000 individuals each year who arrive here from all over the UK and numerous other countries. We fulfil our mission by providing homelessness prevention projects, resource centre services, outreach services, hostel accommodation, supported semi-independent accommodation, and community support for formerly homeless people.
Being aware of homelessness means being aware that there aren’t one, or two, or even three, simple reasons why people become homeless. Each person we work with is an individual who has had their own unique experiences leading them to where they are today, and we work with everyone according to their own needs, goals and aspirations. In short, we see the person – not the circumstance.
We’re always incredibly grateful to Mitie for their contributions, without which we could not continue our work. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to raise awareness, both of the difficulties that vulnerable people in our society face, and of our work that we are doing, both with individuals and by addressing wider problems in society. If you’d like to find out more about what we do and how you can join us in ending homelessness, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website.