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The Thing About Homelessness and the Rejected Products of a Broken System

A Brief Look at an Iceberg Issue

The Independent's image found on Google images, NO COPYRIGHT INTENDED - NOT MY IMAGE

The thing about homelessness is that it is a product of a blatantly inefficient society. Few in power recognize it as an existing problem or something they can help solve. But the sooner we acknowledge it, the faster we can solve it. Sounds simple, and it is simple, but no one in a real position of power (Trump, May, Putin) is doing anything about it, simply because they don't care enough.

My earliest memory is coming out of the tube and noticing a homeless man sitting on the steps. I asked my dad if I could give him something, and Dad gave me 25p. I went over and put the coins in his paper cup, and he said "aw, God bless you darlin.". It has always been a heartfelt response on my part to know I recognized them or helped them in some way. I have reached the point where I rarely go into London or Brighton without having change in my pocket. Giving away a £1 coin, a fifty pence coin, or a handful of 20p coins, is literally no sweat on my forehead. But to those who I give them to, the coins are that day's meal, or ultimately that night's safe space to sleep. And where the issue of the homeless spending money on drugs come in, only 26% of the homeless do drugs (Michael House). 

For many of the homeless, a smile from a passing stranger can be massive. This is because their mental health has reached such a low point, that getting a message such as a smile, is fundamental to the assurance they have that they matter. I know some people who ask homeless people if they can get them a sandwich and a drink. I'm yet to muster up the courage to ask, as I fear that I would patronize them somehow with either my intonation or the phrasing I use. Giving change however, is something I'll definitely do if I have it on me. Its obviously also an option to give money directly to homeless charities - Crisis, St Mungos, or Salvation Army, to name a few, who experience under-funding, with our Tory government. 

It infuriates me, that so many of the homeless on our streets are there because the system they are products of refuses to accommodate them. Its a society in denial. Denial is comfort. Denial is safe. It is not admitting or recognizing there is a problem. As long as one doesn't admit something to themselves, they are stagnant and don't have to deal with the issue — much like society and its relationship with the homeless. I am 19 and I have seen documentary footage of people my age living on the streets who have no access to a job or to accommodation - because the system doesn't allow it. They're told if they've lasted this long, they can last some more time. 

Recently in England, the Conservative councillors in the South West have been enforcing begging fines, or putting up a barrier of sorts on benches where the homeless sleep. This makes me so ashamed to be British. This is what happens when we have a cabinet of ministers who sleep on a bed of privilege and pure ignorance. Its interesting to me that the poorest — those on our streets, are the polar opposites to those in the Cabinet. Those in the Cabinet should REPRESENT the people; they shouldn't be the exception. With a few exceptions, historically, the members of the Cabinet get there because of the old boys network and behind the scenes goings on that the rest of us don't get access to. They are all private-school educated, experience unique luxuries and liberties the everyday Briton won't ever see, and don't experience the unbelievable and expansive diversity that real life offers. They also live in a bubble and have no idea of the real struggles that the vast majority of Britons face. The Cabinet and the streets are the two, exclusive, unique, polar opposites. 

The 2018 Royal Wedding saw the Conservative councillor in Windsor claiming the homeless should leave for the duration of the festivities. Because, imagine seeing the royals pass and the homeless are sat on the corner, right? Can't let people see the stark contrast in English society. 

Mental health should never be underestimated among the homeless. Although mental health is now being more widely discussed, people often label those on the streets as hopeless or lazy. A lot of people don't know or sympathize with the fact that they are there because the care system doesn't care for anyone once they're an adult. The majority of the homeless have been in care. As the care system is underfunded, they can't provide the basic resources to those who eventually have to leave the system, which results with people on the streets. 

So, to have 53 million children currently in care around the world, its an easy argument to say we have a pretty major issue that no superpower country and government is actually committed to solving. This issue of homelessness is frequently what backs up the drug trade, human trafficking and abuse. When you dismantle a structure as significant as homelessness, and as significant as the old boys network that puts the unrepresentative politicians in power, other toxic structures fall too. So do give money to charities and the homeless, and vote, because we are in desperate need of a Cabinet that represents the population, not the top 10%.

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