Homelessness is an issue that could affect any one of us, at any time, and it is only getting worse.
The latest statistics released by the government indicate that it is estimated 4750 people are sleeping rough on the streets of England. This does not include those who are sleeping in derelict buildings, people who have found somewhere out of public view to shelter etc. This gives us an “official” rise of 169% since 2010 alone! The worst affected area being the North West of England with a 39% increase since last year.
Please do bear in mind that this figure is representative of those sleeping rough, this does not include those who are classed as “statutory homeless”, for example, those people living in hostels and refuges.
This also does not include our hidden homeless, the people who are sleeping on couches, or in spare rooms with friends and family etc, these people may have a roof over their heads but they don’t have a place to call home.
I for one can relate to this, in 2015 I endured a trauma which was life changing, I lost my job, my home, my entire life, and I was crashing at a friends house. I was lucky enough to have a great support network around me that kept me from living rough, but living out of a suitcase is not great let me tell you, when you’re used to being surrounded by your own homely things and furniture etc. It is a major adjustment, one that can cause mental health issues and physical problems, to have to let go of all of your possessions and memories is so hard.
After living with a friend for a while, I was offered a flat by a private landlord who appeared to be trustworthy, the place seemed clean and well kept so I took it. After living there for 2 months, I realised why the landlord was so eager for somebody to take it, there was black mould everywhere which had been painted over, my partner and I became ill, but we continued to try and make the best of our situation, we didn’t want to face the reality of being homeless again.
A couple of months later my brother realised how bad our health was becoming, he visited the flat and told us to get out, it was not a liveable environment, we contacted environmental health who condemned the place completely.
We were back to square one, nowhere to live, most of our furniture and belongings had been destroyed by black mould and we were now classed as homeless again. It felt like a never ending circle and the helplessness you feel is unparalleled. We had to continue to live there, in those conditions in order to be considered for a council flat.
The council couldn’t help us until we proved we were living in conditions that were not suitable for human beings, at this lowest point in our lives it was Christmas time, there was nothing we could do, and things couldn’t get any worse right?
We left the flat to visit family on Christmas Day, after putting my grandparents to bed we walked home, we got in at around 11pm and when we got inside we realised we had been burgled, they had ransacked our home and taken what little we had left which was without mould.
They took everything, including our Christmas gifts, and our dignity.
This is just my story of how I can relate to people who are homeless, this is one of the reasons I want to help people, this is why we continue to reach as many people as possible each year because at my lowest points, helping others has always kept me strong and when I haven’t been strong, the people I have met and been inspired by through this appeal have supported, me and it has such a huge impact on me as an individual.
If anybody has any questions or comments please feel free to leave feedback. I will be writing about my childhood experiences in the next instalment, to give you an understanding of how I can relate to the children who receive our support, and why it’s so important to us all to continue to strive to do better, to help and to love those who need us most.
Until next time.
All my love always