Jamie Smyth 11F What is homelessness? - Homelessness is the state or condition of having no home (especially the state of living in the streets) - There is a legal definition of homelessness under the Housing Act 1996 and Homelessness Act 2002; “ There is no accommodation that they are entitled to occupy or they have accommodation but it is not reasonable for them to continue to occupy this accommodation”
Jamie Smyth 11F What are the causes of Homelessness? Homelessness is generally caused by one or more of the following in the United Kingdom; - Bereavement - Leaving a care home, e.g. foster home - Money issues: Debt, unemployment, funding addictions - Alcohol, drug or solvent dependency - Dropping out of school without sufficient qualifications - Disagreements with parents and/or friends (student house)
What are the effects of Homelessness? The consequences of homelessness differ drastically depending on geographical location as some governments can afford to assist their homeless society. - The homeless may find themselves less likely to get a career - The homeless may experience various mental health issues, e.g. depression or anxiety. - The homeless may begin or already have began to abuse drugs, alcohol or other substances such as solvents. - The homeless will also be confronted with various health risks such as hypothermia, lack of hygiene, sleep deprivation, lack of clothing and/or shelter as well as being vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or AIDs as many homeless people engage in “survival sex” exchanging sexual favors for everyday human necessities. Jamie Smyth 11F
What is an NGO? - An NGO is a non-governmental organization formed by a legal person with no participation or representation of any government. - The aim of an NGO is to assist a specific selection of society, whether that is to cope with homelessness or to investigate and document the violation of human rights and to provide legal assistance to the victims of such violations. - Some well known NGOs in the United Kingdom; Jamie Smyth 11F
What could the government do? - The government could provide more benefits to the homeless, not just in the form of a small periodic payment, but with rehabilitation, day activities to ensure a certain group of people are not on the streets harming themselves with the abuse of alcohol, drugs or solvents, setup government funded shelters to ensure the benefits of these shelters can always be offered nationwide, etc. - The UK government specifically, should do more to assist the homeless that do not fit into their legal definition of “homeless”, these groups of people are given very little help. I volunteered at The Welcome Centre, which provides tea and coffee all day as well as offering a three course lunch daily. There are showering facilities, the opportunity to have a change of clothing and a laundry where the people making use of the centre can wash their clothing. Whilst I volunteered here for four months, I came across a forty year old man who was very friendly and had a great musical talent alongside Belfast City Hall at 2am one cold Saturday. When we brought him to the centre we had a deeper chat with him and he was still on the streets because “he was not of an emergency priority” and was given a photocopied list indexing all of the local shelters in the area . I don’t class that as a very helpful government. Jamie Smyth 11F
Statistics Jamie Smyth 11F This is a table showing the Large difference between The amount of housing executive home applications submitted and the number of applications accepted over ten years. This is a table showing the number of Housing Executive Home applications Submitted in the four areas of Belfast.
My view on homelessness People are homeless for hundreds of reasons. It's not right to judge them before you know their exact circumstances, but honestly, who on earth has that time? Life is difficult for everyone, and not everyone has the tools or skills to deal with what may come their way. Even if they made continuous poor decisions that lead them there, you need to look at the true source of the problem. Why did they feel they had to make so many poor choices? Do they even want help or have they given up all hope? I don’t think many people understand how big of a problem homelessness is, therefore they make assumptions and tend to look down their nose at a homeless person on the street; I bet you’ve walked past a homeless person begging you directly for money or food and you automatically thought to yourself “It’s their fault, it’s not my problem if they are homeless or not” Was it really their fault or were you just being self centered? Jamie Smyth 11F