Your Country Needs You

UnknownNo, not in 1914, but now! It is reported that 7,581 people slept rough in London alone in the last year – this is a 16% rise on the previous year and more than double the figure on 3,673 in 2010. Surely, everyone will agree that this is completely unacceptable? The Government should be acting on this and ensuring that everyone has a roof over their heads. However, unfortunately governments have failed in this regard – welfare cuts and insufficient investment in new housing stock are actually making the problem worse. Governments – whatever their hue – will not beat homelessness, but we, the general public can. If enough people get involved we can beat homelessness – and there are lots of ways of playing your part. It is only by getting our hands dirty that we can begin to understand the issues facing people who become homeless and how these issues can be resolved so that people can live independent lives. One way is to work as a volunteer. Working with people who are suffering the effects of homelessness is life changing – and not just for the people you are working with. The majority of homeless people are from different backgrounds – business people, professionals, labourers, ex-services, in fact, they are people like you and me. The difference is that something, sometimes tragedy or a shock change in circumstances, has knocked these people off course. An example I will never forget was a very dignified man who had been a high court judge. He had a lovely home, a wife and a family. One day he decided to to some DIY on the roof – he fell and suffered so much damage to his body that he was hospitalised for six months. During that time his wife filed for divorce, resulting in her and the children being awarded the family home. This, coupled with his physical problems after the accident, drove him to drink. As an alcoholic he couldn’t work. He finished up on the streets – having sunk into homelessness as a result of his circumstances – and eventually sought help from SHOC and other local charities. It struck me: It Could Be Me. Volunteers at SHOC are essential to the smooth running of the service – among other things they serve lunches, manage the food and clothes stores. Whilst it shouldn’t be about personal reward, it is – from my experience – very rewarding. Another important way you can take part in beating homelessness is to join us at The Big SleepOut. Our annual fundraising event, which gives you the chance to take on the challenge of sleeping rough, in December, to raise money to support the work we do at Trinity and SHOC. This year the event will be the biggest SleepOut in the UK – seeing 1,000 people taking on the challenge that thousands face night after night on our streets. Whether as a volunteer, ambassador, trustee or by sleeping in a box we – the general public – are vital to beating homelessness in our society. In my opinion, if we leave it to the authorities – it will never happen. Ray Waite, Trinity and SHOC Trustee. To get in touch with Ray please contact