EVER mulled over what it would be like to be homeless? I have, and it’s not a nice thought. Just think, everything you and I have can be taken away in the blink of an eye, but we still have a support network of family, friends and neighbours – that’s all we need to get by! Homeless people don’t have that option, and that’s what makes them so unbelievably vulnerable to the harsh realities that exist in our society.

It is estimated that there are 1 million homeless people in the UK with the bulk of that number being in temporary accommodation which does not suit the needs of that person or family. Believe it or not, a family in unsuitable accommodation because of its size, repair or inadequate state, are just as vulnerable as those on the streets. Just imagine being in that position.

We see lots of unfairness in our systems too – take this, a homeless family in ‘City A’ may be placed into a B&B until suitable accommodation is made available to them, where as a homeless family in ‘City B’ may get a house to live in straight away. You may say that it’s just down to where you live or which city you are in, but the impractical accommodation on offer to homeless families is simply ridiculous. The system is failing, but that isn’t down to the hard working social workers, housing officers and numerous housing support workers who pick up the pieces when some of Britain’s most vulnerable families are at serious risk. The reason our system is failing is because of the lack of investment in affordable housing by previous government’s, and the fact that hundreds of thousands of homes lay empty, whilst some of our community members who have found themselves in the vicious circle of homelessness live an uncertain life on ‘the list’.

We often see homeless people on our shopping visits to town centres, but never take the time to understand that one day we could be in that position ourselves – in the blink of an eye. Charities and local authorities are stretched to their limits – but is this really the way forward?

Let’s continue to remember the hard work our social workers and housing officers do to beat one of the most challenging tasks known to man – for the only hope that exists is buried deep inside the people who devote their lives to working in our social services.


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