08 June, 2006

A roof is not enough

For once I have to agree with John bird (founder of the big issue ) when he says however much we exercise our minds on the subject of homelessness. Speculation based on opinion and feelings will change nothing.
We can speculate all we want but when you have homelessness in plain view every single day. It's proof that we do have a problem. I think it's strange that for the size and population of this country we have this crisis. The government would have us believe that we do not have a crisis any more. The fact that the government have reduced rough sleepers seems to always come to the fore when anyone mentions homelessness but it takes more than a just a roof over someone's head. The high cost of keeping someone in hostels ect: does give grave cause for concern because this government have problems already with education and the NHS and even house building. You can't keep putting money into something that will eventually collapse and we all know it will at some stage. Plus if someone in the hostel system does get work the rent is far to high so that option goes out the window. The idea that this government are considering building bigger hostels is another worry.
Once people are off the streets teaching them to cope with the normal things of life like reading and writing, getting into work, running a flat ie: paying bills ect, cooking: should be the main stay of any hostel because sooner or later they have to move on. The fact that most homeless people have never had a place they could call home is a stumbling block in itself. Imagine not being able to cook or imagine the only thing that keeps you up to date with events is the TV or you can't read a bill because simply you can't read or write or never having had a job because you were homeless and had problems like drugs and alcohol. It seems to me that more time is spent on getting people off the streets than what is really needed. It's funny but we the people on the homeless panel have met MPs from all parties and they have listened to us but will they act on what we have said who knows we can only keep talking to them until they do. Our agenda is to keep trying to get the government to actually do something positive and not put anymore sticking plasters on the issue of homelessness. The fact that the new in words being banded about is socially excluded. This covers a whole multitude of sins. The idea that what works for one group should work for another may in theory be ok but I am positive this is not the way forward because there are too many pitfalls in thinking this way. I myself have gone through great changes in my life and still have this stigma of ex-druggie and ex-homeless which does annoy me when I go for job interviews but I have had to fight for everything that I have achieved. If it had not been for a charity I would not have learned much more than being just able to read and write I would probably have still been learning the simplest of things.

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