We’ll soon be heading into Autumn, the temperature will soon begin to drop and the evenings close in. With the mayhem of the school routine and all the other things that take up our time and energy it’s easy to forget that there are vulnerable people who will soon face their most difficult time of the year.
An estimated 320,000 people are homeless in the UK, according to research by Shelter – that’s one in every 201 Brits and homelessness in the UK is on the rise.
Rough sleepers are just the visible tip of the iceberg when it comes to registering and understanding the homelessness crisis. At the end of December 2017 78,930 households were in temporary accommodation, these are people or families are that are put into shelters, hostels, B&Bs, refuges or other social housing but do not have a secure, permanent home. This included 120,510 children. Shockingly, this figure has now risen to 130,000 children.
In addition, there are an uncertain number of ‘hidden homeless’ who are unknown to authorities, staying with relatives or friends, sofa surfing or sleeping in cars or the countryside – places official counts don’t cover.
Members of the public in Burton are becoming increasingly aware of homelessness in the area. At this particular time of year, the YMCA in Burton is often asked “Should I give money to someone on the streets?”. This can be a very personal decision, but they suggest a few things to consider:
• Not every homeless person will ask you for money, and not every person asking you for money is homeless.
• You could offer to buy them a hot drink and a hot meal.
• Tell them about the services of the YMCA at ‘Reconnect’ for their immediate needs. They can access a hot shower and a change of clothes, laundry services and hot drinks food and a chance to rest and get warm. This also helps the YMCA connect with them.
• You can phone the YMCA Homeless Outreach number and tell them if you are concerned about someone, or you see evidence that someone may be sleeping rough. Call them on: 0800 130 3415
• Use your judgement and ask yourself ‘will me giving money to this person help meet their immediate need, or will it help perpetuate a cycle of homelessness?’
• Remember that there are various reasons that lead to someone becoming homeless, and that not every homeless person has an addiction (although ironically becoming homeless can actually cause this problem too).
The generous spirit found in Burton means that there is a good network of organisations and places to go for homelessness support. The YMCA Burton believes that if they can link with someone who is rough sleeping, or in some other need, they are more likely to be able to help them off the streets and into accommodation with support.
Volunteers are the backbone of Burton YMCA’s service and members of the public providing dedicated hours of their time helps to support people to transform their lives. To volunteer contact: 01283 538802