On Tuesday 6th February I went to an event run by the Help the Homeless Society at the University of Liverpool. It was incredibly significant as it was a chance to hear from and have an informal chat with people who have experienced it and also people who are working to tackle this issue.
Jacq. A, a writer, poet, and activist shared their experience of how they became homeless and what it was like. Jacq expressed their deep concern for minority groups and shared their experience of being a black woman as well as being bisexual on the streets. The level of abuse that these people face is horrendous, reinforced by Darren Stockton and Steve Khan who shared their own experiences. They said that “you lose the ability to feel human” which reveals the sheer inhumanity that they face.
The main thing I learnt from this event was how unaware I was of the severe reality that minority groups in particular face. Jacq said that usually our image of a homeless person is a white man sat on the street. They said that we won’t usually see black men and women because of the racism they face and Jacq shared their own experience of that. Jacq warned everyone in the room before their talk that they would be talking about things which were very uncomfortable and said we could leave the room at any point. Indeed this warning was needed as we could prepare ourselves to hear some heartbreaking stories that were truly unimaginable and it is utterly unbelievable that we could let this happen. Homelessness needs to end.
To extend the facts even more, transgender men and women have approximately 38% life expectancy when homeless which reveals the high inacceptance of transgender men and women in society. Why is there so much hate and judgement? We are reminded of what Darren and Steve said – “you lose the ability to feel human” – because from the sounds of it as a society we are alienating them which is so wrong.
According to Peter Naylor who has been working in the field of homelessness for over 15 years, if a man or a woman is begging on the Street for 16 hours a day then there is something very wrong.
What is more, there is also a high rate of children on the streets – thousands; something else I was not aware of.
This crisis is so much more complex than I thought.
Andy Green who is a member of Disabled People Against Cuts creates group discussions of how we can make an action plan to end this crisis. It was great to be working with people to figure out solutions with the goal to make change happen. One idea that many came up with was utilising social media, a free service many of us have, to spread awareness. Social media may not be direct physical action and it often feels hopeless when we cannot see the changes. But if we can generate enough discussion through social media, this can lead to physical change. Let’s keep spreading awareness so that one day we can end homelessness.