There’s no point in sugar-coating it. Hull has a problem with homelessness. Sadly it is not an issue that will magically go away. As people are coming off the streets as many are finding themselves living on them.
With the questionable objectives of some Hull homeless charities, one of which pays their CEO £80,000-£90,000 per year, the question is “what can we do?”.
Causes of Homelessness
People can become homeless for a wide range of reasons. Homeless charity Shelter has produced a list of the main causes of homelessness in the UK. We highly recommend reading the page as it a great resource for those wishing to learn more about why homelessness is on the rise.
What Help Can We Give?
Sadly an article published recently, featuring the leader of a local homeless charity, encouraged people to not give food or money to homeless people. The article also encouraged them to go into a hostel. Though the idea sounds fine on paper, this is not always the best way forward.
A large number of homeless people do not want to go into a hostel. At first glance this may look like they’re turning down the offer of shelter and support, however they have good reason to reject the offer. Even with the explicit bans on drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances, there will always be a way to smuggle them in. Those that do remain clean in the hostel will also be suffering from withdrawal, leading to a tense and difficult place to stay.
Along with the above issue there’s also the cost involved. With costs of living in hostels ranging from £120-200 per week, they are an inescapable cycle. Because the individuals are unable to afford to move into private accommodation they are given the choice between the street and a hostel. If they move into a hostel they are unable to afford to move out of a hostel.
Thankfully one Hull homeless group, Raise The Roof Hull, are trying desperately to break this cycle. Unlike other hostels, they are offering affordable accommodation for homeless people to get back on their feet. Without the burden of (up to) £10,400 per year rent, those that find work while living in Raise The Roof’s accommodation can afford to save up and move into their own property.
Food and Drink
Contrary to what the leader of local charity HullHARP said homeless people need to eat and drink to survive. By suggesting they should not be offered food or drink is in no way helping them.
It is an unfortunate fact that many homeless people will die this year. Temperatures have been hitting as low as -6 over the past few nights. For the leader of a homeless charity to suggest they should be freezing cold and starving is deeply disturbing. Naturally, though, encouraging them to stay in a hostel that they provide means an income for the charity.
We spoke to several people that work directly with the homeless on the streets, without profiting from it, and they all answered keep giving food and drink. Giving homeless people the basic things they need to survive is not going to encourage them to stay on the streets.
To make such an unfounded claim and in turn encouraging people to let homeless people starve is unsettling.
One of the most useful things you can give to a homeless person is something warm and dry to sleep in. Sleeping bags cost as little as £10 from the supermarkets. They make the world of difference to those stuck outside in sub-zero temperatures. With the snow it’s also a double-hit to those sleeping on the street. Being cold outside all night is bad enough without being soaking wet too.
There are several groups locally that gratefully take donations of sleeping bags. We highly suggest getting in touch with Raise The Roof Hull if you would like to make a donation that will directly help the homeless. Or you can donate via their GoFundMe page here.
The most simple thing, and one that costs nothing, is just offering your ear. A lot of homeless people spend all day and all night isolated. The majority will hear almost nothing but “sorry I’ve got no change” their entire day. If you’ve got a bit of spare time, why not sit and have a chat with them? Although there may be a small majority that don’t want to speak there are many who would love to have a talk.
Why not spend your lunch hour sharing a meal and a chat with someone living on the streets? The chances are you’ll be making their day with such a small gesture.
You Can Help
There’s always room for more help with several of the local homeless support groups. To name but two are Project Hotdog and Raise The Roof. There are many more groups in the city and in East Yorkshire, so definitely find one that you think could benefit the most from your help!
Cover Photo Credit: Dawn Smith Smedley