Let’s Tackle Homelessness
Every homeless person has their own story to tell. Some become homeless after a very sudden crisis. Others experience a more gradual cycle of decline.
But I believe that the vast majority share one thing in common: that their homelessness could (and should) have been prevented at some point in the past.
The simple truth is this: rough sleepers risking their lives on the streets do not need to be there; families struggling to get by in temporary accommodation do not need to be there; young people struggling desperately to find a place to stay on a night-by-night basis do not need to be in that situation.
At some point in their story things could (and should) have worked out differently, if, for example, somebody had been there to help get their debts under control or to prevent an illegal eviction. Things could also work our differently for the many people we help who come out of prison or hospital and end up on the streets.
For want of a solution to manageable problems far too many people end up in crisis situations that have a devastating effect on their health, their well-being and on those around them. Homelessness, then, is almost never a life-style choice.
Put simply, when it comes to homelessness, prevention is always better than cure – not just on a humanitarian level for the people themselves, but also for communities where public authorities and voluntary organisations have responsibility for picking up the pieces.
The tragedy of recent years is that investment in preventative services have plummeted all over the country as local authorities has felt the pinch of national spending cuts. This may save money in the short-term, but the long term humanitarian and financial costs far outweigh any savings made.
The results of these cuts, as we and others warned at the time, have been grimly predictable. Rough sleeping – the visible, most shocking face of homelessness – has grown enormously. More people are spending more time on our streets with more complex needs than ever before, and more people are getting into situations where they are at imminent risk of losing their homes.
In the last year alone we kept 882 people in their homes who were facing imminent eviction. In that time we helped more than 2,500 others who were concerned about the security of their housing. For every individual seeking our help there are often other family members depending on us to protect them from the grim realities of homelessness.
But we can only do so much with the limited funding we have at our disposal. That’s why I am so delighted that The Nottingham Post and our charity partner Nottingham Forest Football Club have chosen to support our homelessness prevention work with our joint Let’s Tackle Homelessness campaign.
With their support – and the generous help of the public – we will be able to do so much more to assist people at risk and spare them the pain of ever becoming homeless.