If you follow my Instagram you might be aware of how the whole of Scotland has been driven crazy by the snow (we have around 20-30cm of it in Glasgow). The public transport closed, most jobs and schools were closed and people stayed at home after stocking up on food as though expecting a zombie apocalypse. I’ve seen people happily spending time outside building snowmen with their family and friends like it was the whitest Christmas. Maybe we have been blessed with another few days to spend quality time with our loved ones. And that is the mindset that I’ve had for the past couple days. I’ve only mastered up to do the bare minimum of work a day as the rest I’ve spent cuddling with the cats and enjoying the rare extra time that I get with my fiance.
Whilst I’ve been cosied up in my house in the warm, with food and comfort, every now and again I get a pinch of guilt and gratitude. During this cold time, I’ve seen posts about people and animals freezing to death outside. How lucky we are to have a home and the means to provide for us, and what will happen to those who live on the streets? My anxiety grew stronger when I realised that I have no idea how to help homeless in the local area. There is some information online, however, I still find it too limited to how big the problem is in the UK, there is estimated 68,000 women living roughly on the streets, in shelters or temporary homes alone, not counting the children and men as well.
I feel cocooned in my little comfort bubble, but if nothing else I can find out what I can do on a regular basis or in emergency situations to help out homeless.
- Check our Shelter, Crisis and Roundabout websites for advice
- Donations to homeless charities (food, hygiene products, clothes, money and other stuff).
- Check where your local homeless shelters are so that you can advice homeless where to go, or you could even find out what are the rights of homeless people and encourage them.
- Talk to them, so they don’t feel socially isolated.
- Arrange local places which are closed (such as schools, cafe’s etc.) to shelter homeless over the cold nights.
It might be my Finish upbringing, but I feel that there is a problem with the way charities work. Although, I find it necessary at the moment, however, I believe they shouldn’t be necessary. If the government would accommodate enough financial support towards dealing with the problem at an early stage there would be less need for charities. Leah from Style Wise said it excellently:
Charity is only good now because it is necessary. But the world we should be working toward is one where people are far too important to ever be turned into charity cases, where we don’t get to feel good about giving.
There is a lot of support that is in place, however, people are not knowledgeable about it. Homelessness is seen as an embarrassment and people tend to withdraw, rather than ask for help.
Do you know what you would do if you suddenly became homeless?
I’ve heard people say that homelessness is a problem of drug addicts, however, that is a very superficial and ignorant way of looking at the problem. Often homelessness can occur due to being let go off work, difficult family relationships or numerous other reasons that we couldn’t even imagine. If the support is given at an early stage there could be financial savings for the state, as those supported would become productive members of the society more quickly and wouldn’t require the current structure of various levels of homeless shelters and building their lives up again. In Finland, homelessness is seen as a big problem which needs to be solved first before tackling other problems that might cause the homelessness, as “having a home can make solving health and social problems much easier”.
I am happy that there are many people who want to help homeless people and many charities in place, however, I see that as a community it should stem from the government and their legislations. There should be more support available to people in need so that homelessness wouldn’t happen, and there should be more information available to young as well as older generation so they know where to turn to if they are hit with these problems. And it should be easier to access help such as benefits when faced with losing once home. What do you think?
To finish this off, I will do my best to help homeless charities, especially for the wintery cold months, whilst acknowledging the need for systematic change. I wouldn’t know what I would do if I became homeless and even the thought scares me! Therefore I am feeling so much gratitude for having a warm home, food and healthy social life and I think you should too.
Do you have any additional advice on how to help homeless people or homelessness in general?