Jun 03, 2024

I was speaking to  Dr Simon Dwight, Government advisor on Homelessness last week. Simon is one of my colleagues from my Doctoral programme at Middlesex University. He really opened my eyes on what we can do to significantly reduce this problem that is an embarrassment to a caring society.

Latest figures show that there are 3,069 people sleeping rough on any night, 6,631 at any point in a month and 265,000 in temporary accommodation with an additional 538,000 staying with family or friends who would otherwise be homeless. The problem is large, deeply embedded in society but often out of sight.

What do you do and how do you feel when you see a homeless person? Just imagine for a few minutes that, through a cascade of events, you lose your job, money, home, family and friends. How would you feel being an ‘other’ a stain on a shop doorway treated with suspicion by fine, upstanding citizens?

There are many worthy charities in this sector and Prince William is also shining a spotlight on this problem and giving his commitment through his Royal Foundation, Homewards. So, do we leave this to those better qualified or can we make a difference ourselves? Here are two simple suggestions:

If you see a homeless person, talk to them. This could be so much more valuable than some coins or a cup of coffee. The underlying cause of much homelessness is broken relationships. The gift of being seen as a human being that someone is interested in could be transformative.

If you run a reasonable size business, employ a homeless person. Your local homeless charity or local authority will help. You might be surprised at the skills and commitment you find. It will be great for your Social capital and, more importantly, it could give a human being a hand up to having an identity, a purpose, a home and being part of a team.

Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash