17 March, 2006

Talking with Conservative MPs

Meeting MPs in the houses of parliament can be a very daunting prospect but I have come to the conclusion that they are the same as you or me. Maybe a bit smarter (I don't think so) but basically the same. So on Wednesday when myself and three other members of the homeless panel met with some Conservative MPs( photos above) to talk about homelessness and what it's like to be a member of the socially excluded. They did seem to listen to us. We talked about hidden homeless i.e people in temporary accommodation , sleeping on friends floors, hostels ect. The fact that we were there and that they wanted to hear our stories and views was a positive thing. The fact that homelessness is rising at a rate of knots seemed to be a concern of theirs . Three years ago an estimated 380000 people were considered to be homeless or part of the hidden homeless. Today the figure is estimated to be much much higher. New ways of tackling homelessness have to be found sooner rather than later. I must admit that I do have a bee in my hat about the use of people that have been through the mill and come out the other side. I strongly believe that their expertise in this area can be utilized to the max after all who better to know what problems homeless people face than someone who's actually been there. The same goes for drugs and alcohol.
The problem is not solely that homeless people are on the streets. The problem is that when they are there, they are forgotten. What doesn't help is that the publics perception of homelessness. They only see the faces of these people and that's usually with a can in hand or they see someone begging that seems to be in another world and automatically assume that here's another drug addict because that's what we have begun to expect.
How do you change the publics perception of homeless people? A difficult question to answer but if you see them as people then you start to get an inklings that they're the same as anyone else. They have creative juices just like me and you and because they are homeless and have these problems they can't be create what should come natural. It's one thing to know that you have a talent but it's another to believe you are useless. The fact that there are people living on the streets and holding down a job says a lot about most homeless people. Most don't want to be homeless and feeling useless. Most just want a roof over there head and to be able to get by just like ordinary people.
The question I keep on asking is how can a country that is supposedly rich let things go on the way they are? isn't it better to have homeless people improving thier lives rather than them just stagnating on the streets and being basically being forgotten.

No comments: