The shocking news that the number of rough sleepers on the streets of Britain has doubled since 2010, particularly now that nightly temperatures frequently drop below freezing, is truly shocking.
The stark reality is that many of these 4,134 people once had loving families, good jobs and a roof over their heads. Sometimes, through no fault of their own: marriage break up, cuts to unemployment benefit or the onset of a mental health illness, they have been abandoned by society and left to fend for themselves. Astonishingly, many shelters do not allow them access if they have been in this country for under five years and some UK nationals say that they are not entitled to temporary accommodation until they have been sleeping on the streets for six months.
Most are proud men and women who may not be able to get a job, as they have no fixed abode. To add insult to injury and even more inhumanity to man, Manchester City Council is now having to confront the issue of metal ‘pigeon’ spikes which are being cruelly erected on the pavements to prevent the homeless and rootless from sleeping under cover.
These rough sleepers are not disease carrying vermin from whom you need protection. They are people who had hit difficult times and need a leg up to get back on track. So when you are on your way to work tomorrow, do not pass them by without a second glance. Stop to consider what you and your firm might do to help. Better still, think what you can do immediately with that change that is burning holes in your pockets and buy them a hot soup or a hot chocolate. I understand that random acts of kindness cannot extol the government to spend more money on the most vulnerable in society. But always remember that you gain more by giving than receiving. That one hot drink may just make a small difference and lots of small differences can have a real impact…