In the lead-up to World Homeless Day 2023, we must face up to the profound challenges for people who are homeless in our society.
According to statistics from housing and homelessness charity Shelter, an alarming 170,000 homeless individuals are struggling to find shelter in London alone. The sight of those in need, whether it's a busker, a beggar, or someone holding a cardboard sign, is undeniably heart-wrenching. Yet, finding the best way to help them can be daunting.
Supporting Homeless Individuals
Our supporters ask us what they can do when they encounter someone who is rough sleeping. While organisations like Streetlink offer immediate assistance, they primarily rely on digital notifications, which may not be accessible to everyone.
Jad Adams, the chair of Nightwatch, offers an insightful perspective on giving spare change to those who are begging. He suggests that while this act of kindness may not significantly improve their overall situation, it's crucial to channel our support through local charities. Adams emphasises the importance of making individuals feel better rather than perpetuating a challenging lifestyle.
Understanding the Complexity of Homelessness
It's essential to recognise that homelessness exists on a spectrum, and not all homeless individuals are without shelter. Some may have a place to sleep but still face precarious circumstances that drive them to beg. Tragically, in some cases, people may misuse the money they receive or, worse, be forced into begging by human traffickers, with the funds not reaching them.
Jon Glandick, founder of Streets Kitchen, takes a different approach. He believes in providing direct assistance to those in need whenever possible. Glandick emphasises the significance of taking action, regardless of how the money may be used. He highlights the importance of personal connections and not waiting for someone else to address these issues.
At Mildmay, we are dedicated to restoring the health and well-being of homeless individuals following initial medical care at an NHS acute hospital. Our mission is to offer rehabilitation and support to help them transition to secure housing. However, it's important to understand that the mental health and past traumas of each person greatly influence their journey towards stability.
Our NHS contract, which supports this vital work, is set to expire in March next year, and we earnestly hope for its renewal. While we are immensely grateful for the generosity of our supporters, government and NHS contracts are equally essential due to the escalating costs of running our hospital.
A Call for Societal Change
Ultimately, addressing homelessness requires a widespread societal shift in how we care for one another. At Mildmay, we are committed to playing our part for as long as we can. We believe that together, as a compassionate community, we can make a meaningful difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
The challenges facing homeless individuals in our society are profound and complex. Whether you choose to support local charities, provide direct assistance, or back organisations like Mildmay, your involvement is invaluable.
By working together, we can strive for a more compassionate society where homelessness becomes a relic of the past and every individual has the opportunity for a brighter future.
On the 10th of October 2023, people around the world mark World Homeless Day in many varied ways and change the lives of people experiencing homelessness in their local community.