Nowhere To Sleep: A Close Look At The Homeless Crisis

We closely examine the current reality of rough sleeping and explore the causes, what’s being done, and the most effective ways to help.

How did we get here?

A statement released at Christmas last year declared more than 270,00 people, of which 126,000 are children, are now homeless across the UK. This is a deeply sad situation that can be seen everywhere. Scattered across the streets and doorways of cities, sleeping with little more than coats. Clutching warm cups in coffee shops, trying to hide from the cold. One question you may be asking is, how did we get here?

Rough sleeping developed into a national disaster in the 1870’s, most prominently in urban cities, following chronic rises in unemployment and related social issues. And despite various attempts to tackle the problem, it is only on the rise. We have all felt the impacts of a bad night’s sleep. For the 2500-plus people sleeping rough tonight, little or no sleep is a daily reality. The causes of the homeless crisis are incredibly varied though the key reasons so many end up waking up on the streets are;

  • Unemployment
    The current UK unemployment rate is 3.8 %. Losing a job is one of the leading reasons someone can end up on the streets. With no income and no relief from costs, it’s easy to slip into homelessness. The barrier back into work becomes more complicated with no address, making it a complex cycle to break.

     

  • Addiction
    The link between addiction and sleeping rough is clear. Many of those on the streets struggle with severe alcohol and drug abuse. The mental health issues associated with addiction intensify the challenge of seeking treatment. Often leading to insurmountable health conditions made worse by lack of sleep and improper nutrition.

     

  • Poverty
    With inflation, stagnant wages and increasing housing costs, it can be hard to keep up. Eventually, even the essentials such as food and education slip out of the grip of those experiencing poverty. The financial pressure can rip families apart and cause many to end up on the streets with nowhere to go.

     

  • Relationship breakdowns
    For many, domestic violence is a real issue; for whom, the streets can feel like the safest option. Trauma can increase vulnerability to various mental health issues, resulting in the only option being to find shelter on the streets.

     

  • Lack of affordable housing
    To sleep in a warm bed every night is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s easy to take this blessing for granted, though spare a thought for the many who cannot afford the privilege. Having no place to call home is a terrifying reality for those who cannot keep up with the rising rent rate, particularly in cities like London.

     

 What is being done to help?

From a multitude of initiatives to increased funding, serious measures have been taken in a bid to tackle the housing crisis. In December 2021, the government issued a £316,000,000 funding boost to support the cause. The minister for rough sleeping, Eddie Hughes, has pledged his sincere commitment to getting people off the streets saying:

“I have seen first-hand the devastation of those who come face to face with homelessness, and my heart goes out to anyone in this situation.”

There is no overnight solution. Though the more compassion and corporate responsibility embraced by leading companies, the quicker we can reduce the numbers.

Panda London sets a heartfelt example, working actively with SHP in the fight toperson on the street asking for help

 prevent homelessness. The admirable charity helps vulnerable and socially- excluded people across London to transform their lives, championing well-being and offering support, counselling services, shelters and assisted living accommodations to those in need. 

“When you’re on the street, people look at you differently. They just assume you’re drunk or on drugs. A lot of the time, that’s just a way of coping with the situation”, says someone who has experienced sleeping on the streets of London.

Change is something we can all play a part in. As with many national and international challenges, the best results happen when we come together.

What can you do to help the homeless?

If you are looking for a way to get involved in helping the cause, the good news is there’s plenty that can be done. Here are three easy places to start.

1. Support charities
Choose a charity that resonates with your values and is taking positive action towards rehoming and rehabilitating those on the streets. It doesn’t matter how much you give, every little helps. Your contribution could mean one less cold night on the streets for someone.

2. Food donations
Accessing a nourishing meal or hot drink is a big concern for those sleeping rough. Whether it’s a tin of beans, a pack of biscuits or a box of teabags, donating all you can to your local food bank can be a massive help. To find your local centres, you can contact your local council.

3. Show some warmth
Next time you walk past someone on the street, a little compassion could make their day. Whether you buy a copy of the big issue, offer to buy them a sandwich or simply smile- showing some warmth to those on the streets will make them feel valued. After all, we all need a little kindness. 

Outlook for the future

Homelessness has been a long-standing issue, and while a lot is being done to help – we still have a long way to go. Let’s join together in doing all we can to create a world where everyone has access to a good night’s sleep.