Christmas. A time of giving, one of happiness and festivities. For 250,000, however, it is a time of fear, of sadness, of uncertainty — surrounded all the time by the bitter cold that eats away at us all. Those 250,000 are our nation’s own homeless — the people we walk past in the street without as much as a glance. When you think of homelessness, what comes to mind?
“People begging for change, the Big Issue magazine, sleeping bags on street corners.”
News flash: Not all homeless people shout at passers-by asking for change. In fact — if we gave them the glance we try to avoid, passing them by — we’d see that many homeless people look nothing like the stereotypes we hold.
Believe it or not, not all of them are identical — would you believe that 250k people aren’t all the same? Yeah, really. The Government hardly help either — since the Conservatives came into power in 2010, homelessness has surged 34%. Thirty-four bloody percent. Think about it: more than 120,000 children will spend this Christmas with nowhere to call their home. Let’s say an average community primary school has 120 pupils — that’s one thousand primary schools worth of children homeless. Shocking, isn’t it?
“What are the Government doing about it?”, I hear you ask. About as much as I am about Brexit on a personal level — not very bloody much. We sit on the sidelines, watching on and blaming everyone else. Ever since the Thatcher government of the 1980s and the Right to Buy scheme that they implemented with the Housing Act — passed in August of 1980 — homelessness has grown incrementally.
Of course, it is a huge problem nowadays and nobody wants to discuss it. There are various factors that are making it difficult for us to deal with homelessness effectively — not least that the problem continues to grow, and the bigger it becomes, the fewer people want to know, and the problem continues to grow. We’re going round in circles, over and over. This needs to change. Another key issue is the length of time spent in Parliament by each Government — a general election being held every five years in the UK. As we’ve seen with Tony Blair’s scrapping of the Right to Buy scheme — implemented many Governments before him — politicians seem hell-bent on destroying the work of the Governments before them slowly but surely.
We need a drastic change in the way that we handle homelessness — putting spikes on benches to stop the homeless sleeping on them is not the solution. Nor, for the record, is buying train tickets and shipping them off to another local authority area. We’re just looking around the problem, and we need to change.