These are some of the biggest #HomelessIssues faced by homeless people in the uk.
Share and spread the #HomelessAwareness!
(This list is, sadly, not exhaustive. But whenever you spot an issue related here, please use the associated hashtag, so that we can get these issues trending and push them into the public consciousness. And if there are issues you identify which are not outlined here, please add to them, so that we can make the lives of homeless people visible. It’s time to be seen and heard!)
This is both the real and relative increase in the cost of living experienced by homeless people.
For instance, a loaf with spread and fillings for multiple sandwiches costs most people around £5 tops.
Without food storage options, a ready made sandwich costs a homeless person £2-3.
A jar of coffee and milk and sugar costs £5 tops for anyone with a kettle and a fridge. For a homeless person, each coffee costs £2-3.
Homeless people face both an increase in the real cost of living (each coffee costs pounds instead of pence), and the relative cost of living (the percentage of their income spent on basics is larger than for anyone else).
The poverty premium also affects homeless people in the criminal justice system.
As certain aspects of homeless life (rough sleeping, pan-handling, etc) are increasingly criminalised, homeless people face fines for their existence that they are unable to pay or avoid. This leads to the further indebting of homeless people, and even forcing them into incarceration for increasing fines that they can’t ever hope to pay – just for existing.
#PovertyImprisonment is back in the UK. I though we passed this almost two centuries ago.
Homeless people are routinely subject to violence from both the public and the police, from being assaulted to having their tents or belongings stolen, vandalised or set on fire/destroyed.
Homeless people have their status used against them, even long after their homeless experience.
This can manifest in abuse from members of the public and authorities, abuse or rejection from landlords, and abuse or rejection from employers.
This prejudice remains unrecognised by governments, the public, and even media and corporations – such as Facebook and Google, and even “progressive” outlets like the BBC, the independent and the guardian.
Homeless people are routinely excluded from policy discussions about homelessness, both in local and central government, and in charity policy.
Homeless exclusion is also a major problem in the media, where homeless voices are ignored except where they fit the narrative of “pity porn” the press thrives on. Any political movement by homeless people is ignored or vilified – look at the recent royal wedding fiasco, where homeless protesters were painted as “thugs wanting a riot” prior to the event, and when that didn’t transpire they were ignored by the press altogether.
Homelessness is continually blamed on mental health problems, substance addiction, crime, and basically anything that puts the blame on the homeless person themselves.
This lie is exposed by the vast number of criminals, and people with mental health issues and substance addictions that aren’t homeless.
We don’t make murderers homeless, but we’re willing to suggest that someone with mental health problems is homeless because of their mental health problems!
It’s further exposed by the number of homeless people who don’t have any mental health issues or addictions or convictions, either prior to their homelessness or during it.
There are, including “hidden homeless” (such as long term “sofa surfers”), about 300,000 homeless people in the UK. There are 200,000+ long term empty homes (empty for more than 6 months) in the UK.
Even if the average empty Home has just 2 bedrooms (a fairly conservative estimate), that means we could house everyone *tonight*.
To appropriate a quote by Amartya Sen: Homelessness in the UK is the characteristic of some people not having access to a home. It is *NOT* the characteristic of there not being enough homes.
Nor is it the characteristic of some people making themselves homeless.
Nobody “makes themselves homeless”. This is a lie perpetuated to justify neglecting homeless people and blame their homelessness on themselves.
Whilst different solutions to different homeless people are necessary, the causes of homelessness lie in the lack of a political will to open up homes to homeless people and the anti-transient laws that criminalise transient existence, and not within the homeless themselves.
#StreetCleansing and #SocialCleansing
Councils, police and local businesses continue to engage in programs aimed at removing homeless people from town centres (where many rely on the only income available to them), with no real solutions proffered to the homeless people themselves.
The goal is solely to sanitise the town centre and makes no attempt to deal with homeless issues, beyond what is superficially accepted by the media who neglect any further inquiry that exposes the street/social cleansing going on.
(An example would be the implementation of “homeless hostile” architecture, like spikes on the pavement to prevent sleeping, or of Windsor council offering homeless people temporary accommodation miles out of town where there’s no public transport, during the royal wedding.)
Anti-traveler and anti-transient prejudice has affected homeless people for centuries.
Many homeless end up having to move to find somewhere they *might* find help or a better life. This movement-by-necessity is used against them, either to differentiate them from the “deserving” local homeless (who the community still don’t care about, exposing this lie), or to suggest they’re just being “opportunistic” rather than desperately seeking a solution to their situation.
Many homeless people who travel to a new town find that they are not able to access assistance because they aren’t from that town, further exacerbating their situation. (Truth is, we don’t care about the homeless who live in our towns, let alone those who come here from elsewhere.)
Anti-transient prejudice also affects the “solutions” offered to homeless people, as transient people who find themselves homeless are offered static solutions that end up failing them, causing them to be blamed for their recidivism.
Many transient people are neglected as “intentionally homeless”, instead of being recognised as people seeking a solution to homelessness that works for them. This is largely down to a static-based bias in society that fails to see transient homes (living in vehicles, for instance) as a legitimate way of life or a legitimate home. As anti-transient laws have continued to be passed (and an anti-transient policy dogmatically followed by government from Nostell Priory, to the Battle of the Beanfield, to the CJA of the early 90’s, to Dale Farm, to today) transient people find themselves increasingly at risk of becoming homeless, with no effective solutions on offer to them.
Thanks to the #PovertyPremium, it is impossible for many homeless to get enough calories in the day to do anything beyond subsisting.
This makes it easy to push the narrative that they’re lazy, when in actual fact they are struggling to get enough calories to keep their baseline existence going, let alone do anything that requires energy.
When your basal metabolic rate (how many calories you need just to survive lying in bed all day) can be between 1-2,000 calories per day, it’s easy to see why a deficit in calories can affect the energy levels of homeless people and cause real problems – both in terms of their health and in how they get perceived as “lazy” by non-homeless people.
Facing homelessness for any prolonged period of time can erode anyone’s resolve.
Facing constant abuse from the public and the authorities; Being moved on all the time; Being looked down on and humiliated; Facing violence, theft and destruction of property – even by the authorities; Finding “solutions” closed to you, or being given temporary or poor fitting “solutions; all of these things can generate an enormous sense of ennui and cynicism that can -through no fault of the homeless individual – perpetuate the issues homeless people face.
When you’ve been homeless for any length of time, the emotional fatigue you experience that can handicap any attempt to find a solution for the issues you face is overwhelming.
Homeless recidivism affects homeless people who are either offered solutions that don’t work for them, or who are offered solutions without adequate follow-up care or assistance.
Many homeless people have reported being housed with no income for weeks and no amenities (electricity, gas, etc).
When “solutions” fail, the instant reaction is to blame the homeless person themselves, rather than investigate why the “solutions” were not fit for purpose.
This leads to many people who experience homeless recidivism being branded “intentionally homeless”, allowing the council and government to wash their hands of them and blame them for the situation they face, rather than adjust their policies to better deal with homeless issues.
Most homeless people sleep sporadically for very few hours each day, which leads to a sense of permanent exhaustion that every homeless person will tell you is the number one characteristic of being homeless.
When you’re homeless, the first thing that hits you – and the thing that defines your existence – is a state of permanent exhaustion, from a lack of sleep, a lack of calories and a lack of stability.
Imagine living your life on only 4-5 hours sleep a night at best. Now imagine having to get those 4-5 hours sleep from 1-2 hour broken periods when you aren’t being woken up by the public or police.
Speak to any homeless person and the first and overarching theme you’ll hear is how they are always tired. Not just tired, but physically exhausted and spending most of their time in that close-to-dream state that characterises extreme sleep deprivation..
Homeless people are constantly used in political tit-for-tat by governments and groups trying to justify their agendas.
Whether it’s to push an anti-immigration narrative or an anti-transient one, or an anti-drugs policy or a pseudo-pro-mental-health narrative (characterised by there being no solutions to mental health issues, but simply the use of mental health to further justify the idea that homelessness has nothing to do with the system that creates homelessness), the media and these interest groups and government try to portray a difference between a “deserving” homeless and an “undeserving” one.
However, none of them even care about the issues facing their so-called “deserving” homeless, which again exposes the lie behind their rhetoric.
The truth is that #HomelessIsHomeless.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background: if you’re homeless, the-powers-that-be don’t care about solving your issues. They only care about using you as a political tool.
This is why all homeless people, regardless of who we are, where we come from or what we believe, have to stand together for a solution to homeless issues for all our kin: #NoOneLeftOut!
Some homeless people who find their way out can – due to nothing more than human nature – map their experiences on to every other homeless person, leading to a lack of empathy for the struggles other homeless people face.
On its own, this would only be a mild irritant.
However, the stories of such people are often used in the media, public and government to justify neglecting those homeless who were not so fortunate, and helps further generate a public narrative that blames homelessness on homeless people.
Many charities, along with local and central government, perceive homelessness as having a single solution that works for all.
When someone doesn’t fit those solutions, they are literally thrown aside and labelled “intentionally homeless”, and their situation blamed on themselves rather than the lack of insight that treats all homeless people as a homogeneous blob.
More and more aspects that define homeless existence are being criminalised, which leads to homeless people facing convictions and/or penalties for doing what they have to to survive.
Do I really have to explain how this doesn’t help either the homeless or society as a whole?
You’re spending tax payers’ money on prosecuting people who can’t pay for just trying to stay alive.
You do the fucking maths.
(Apologies. That’s the only time I’ll swear here. But I think it’s very understandable why.)
Homeless people with children are often told that solutions exist for their children but not them.
Because they are blamed for their homelessness, the government sees fit to separate them from their children, leaving the homeless without any viable solution, and subjecting their children to a life in care separated from their family.
Instead of offering a solution that works for the whole family, helping build a constructive and cohesive social unit for both the parents and their children, the government forcibly removes children from their family, estranging them and destroying the already dilapidated moral of everyone involved.
Thanks to the horrific nature of homelessness, homeless people face the very real threat of death on the streets every day.
On top of this, thanks to factors like #HomelessFatigue and the mental health problems created and exacerbated by homelessness, homeless people face an increased risk of suicide or ennui-induced death (that is, death that occurs not through a deliberate attempt to end one’s life, but a lack of motivation to do anything to continue a life that ultimately appears futile to the person involved – I appreciate it’s hard to pin down, because it can manifest as a general apathy towards personal health care such as the take up of addictive substances or not seeing a doctor in times of emergencies, or a more specific non-interest in personal health problems that someone might encounter, with a view of “well, life isn’t going to improve anyway”).
Just by being homeless, a person’s life expectancy is reduced drastically – at a rate beyond most pathogens and other health risks.
Being homeless is a very fatal issue.
What’s absolutely unforgivable is how this factor of homelessness mortality is completely ignored by the government when it comes to public health initiatives.
(Yes, this is tightly connected to #HomelessMortality. Who’d have thunk it?)
Because many homeless people find themselves unable to find easy access to health care – even within the NHS (which is SOLELY to do with its management by an uncaring government and their hostile environment attitude towards homeless people, and not the hard working and ultra-compassionate health care workers in the NHS, of whom I only have the highest praise and support for) – homeless people suffer greater instances of physical and mental health problems than any other demographic in the UK.
They are less able to seek help, less able to obtain help, and less able to access the system that perpetuates healthcare beyond “at point of access” (A&E) which deals with sorting out causes of health issues rather than the symptoms of health issues.
(If you’re unaware, we pay the NHS to deal with the underlying issues behind our health problems, rather than just the symptoms. That’s why we don’t die from simple pathogens these days. Big up our NHS!)
On top of this, as stated before, successive governments have ignored the role of poverty and homelessness on health issues, which has further denied homeless people access to health care solutions to the health issues they experience.
When you can’t access beyond “at-point-of-access care”, then it’s no surprise that homeless people endure long term physical and mental health problems that exacerbate their situation.
I am going to amend my last homeless issues post to add these in, but also thought I’d be negating my responsibility to highlight the fact that I’d missed them out, and that those who’d already seen that post may not go back and get the opportunity to see these as well.
#PeriodPoverty, where sanitary products are unavailable to homeless women.
#HomelessSexualAbuse, #HomelessSexualHarassment, and #HomelessRape, where homeless women and homeless LGBTQ people are often vulnerable to attack and find it difficult or impossible to get justice and adequate care and safeguarding.
#HomelessBirthControl, where homeless women find it hard to access contraception, and where they are even vilified for having the audacity to have a sex life whilst homeless.
#HomelessLGBTQ people also face difficult issues, where they can’t access care, support, security and justice, especially when facing attacks primarily focused on their identity and taken advantage of because of their homelessness.
Again, this list – whilst already depressingly long – is sadly by no means inexhaustible.
I encourage everyone who has experienced homelessness to add any issues they have faced that are not included, with the hashtag #HomelessIssues, so that we can spread awareness to the wider public of what it’s really like to be homeless.
And this list is very UK-centric, but I encourage anyone who is experiencing or has experienced homelessness – in whatever form – around the world to make it their own.
For me, #HomelessIsHomeless.
No matter who you are, where you are or where you come from, we are the same people. We are kin. And we have a duty to help each other, because we’re facing down the same problem that we all face.
If you’re homeless, you’re my family. No matter what.
Remember: homeless people aren’t looking for “special treatment”.
We’re asking to be recognised as Human Beings.