Nearly one in five people are “ignoring” a crisis in the UK; one that’s been building for years but is now at catastrophic levels. And on Tuesday 10 October, the reality of the situation was put into sharp focus.
The charity End Youth Homelessness (EYH) has released a survey into public attitudes towards homeless people and rough sleepers. And it published the results to coincide with World Homeless Day on 10 October. But the survey throws up some worrying findings.
Homelessness: not my problem?
EYH found that:
- 78% of people wouldn’t give loose change to homeless people.
- 33% are “sceptical” about giving money to homeless people, as “they don’t know how it will be used”.
- 19% said they would rather give homeless people food and drink than money.
- 16% “avoid eye contact, ignore, or give homeless people a wide berth”.
- 13% “admit to making negative assumptions about homeless people”.
But there were some more positive results from the survey:
- 45% say they have donated items to a homeless person.
- 53% have donated to charity, and 12% have done voluntary work.
- 32% would like to volunteer.
Also, the survey revealed that 25% feel “incredibly guilty when they walk past anyone homeless without stopping to do anything”. But the public’s guilt is maybe misplaced. Because figures reveal that a chunk of the blame for the crisis lies firmly at the Conservatives’ door.
A shameful record
The NAO found that the government has presided over [pdf p16] a:
- 134% increase in the number of rough sleepers since autumn 2010.
- 73% increase in the number of children in temporary accommodation since March 2011.
- 63% increase in the number of households where their council had to step in to stop them being homeless since 2009/10.
- 60% increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation since March 2011.
- 49% of people think that addiction is the main cause of youth homelessness. The reality is family breakdowns are the biggest cause.
- 12% of people think that mental health issues are a cause of homelessness. But in reality, 80% of young homeless people actually live with a mental health condition.
Solidarity not charity
So with the public unsure what to do, and the Conservatives turning their backs, it appears to be down to charities to manage the homelessness crisis. But often they are not what they seem. As The Canary previously reported, some charities have been helping the government to deport foreign rough sleepers:
An investigation by Corporate Watch found that outreach teams from the charities St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live (CGL) have all been working with Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) officers on patrols that target rough sleepers in London.
Charity outreach teams should help rough sleepers to access support. Instead, by teaming up with the Home Office, they expose vulnerable people to detention and deportation.
It would seem that perhaps the only support homeless people can really rely on is through organisations like Streets Kitchen. Founded by rough sleepers themselves, it operates with an ethos of “solidarity not charity”, providing food and support for homeless people. And with forecasts that homelessness is set to rocket, more and more people will be turning to the likes of Streets Kitchen, unless something drastic quickly happens.
– Support Streets Kitchen.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?