Homeless reflections

I had been wanting for some time to compile my main blog postings concerning homelessness. In recent years working with and for the homeless has been my main community activity, the scene of which is set out in my book “Outside the Camp”. Approaching fifteen years ago I became a lot more aware of folk sleeping rough around our local High Street, when going out with Street Pastors. I got to know some of them and built up rapport. I realized the situation each was in was complex and unique, and it seemed the “system” was often weighted against them getting the help they needed and that many who were homeless were disempowered and they faced barriers preventing them from getting off the streets. Many of these were single adults 20-50, mainly men but increasingly women and often they were not able to get the help they needed. This led to my being involved setting up Southend Homeless Action Network (SHAN) and later with the church winter night shelter program and the Street Spirit soup kitchen, among other involvements. During the time since I started to blog (five years ago), I have posted several times on the subject of homelessness and am yet to run out of things to talk about. It is a blight on our community and a national disgrace, and it is a lot closer to home than is often realized.

The reality is  anyone of us can become homeless should our circumstances etc. change, but most are oblivious of this until it happens. It is also on the increase. It never ceases to amaze me the different types that do end up on the streets and how every individual has there own way, sometimes unsatisfactory, of dealing with their situation. Homelessnes raises all sorts of emotions ranging from nimbyism to righteous indignation, from apathy to wanting to help. In responding, it brings out the best and worst in the human condition. It can be frustrating to think our supposedly civilized society is also a broken one and is full of injustices and gaps that allow triggers for and effects of homelessness to go unchecked. Many look upon homelessness with consternation that in this day and supposedly enlightened age this is actually on the increase. Some ignore the problem and others genuinely ask what they can do to help. For those who want to do something about it, one will often encounter bad among those with an interest, whether those who claim to be homeless (not all who do so are genuine) with their manipulative and anti-social tendencies or those tasked to deal with the effects of homelessness yet avoid doing much that is meaningful to help or those adversely effected by homelessness e.g. businesses fearful the homeless will affect custom seek to drive them away.

Amidst bad tendencies there are good ones. Some of the nicest people I know are homeless and I have seen countless acts of kindness by those seeking to help. Realistically, what we can do to help may be limited but we can all do something, starting with affirming the humanity of all and being kind. I tend to focus on the things I can do and now I am an old hand spend time encouraging others and providing pastoral care to the homeless themselves. But there is always room for those with a “can do” and “do do” attitude as well as those who campaign to improve the lot of the homeless.  I have met many amazing people in my homeless journey (including those on the streets and those who volunteer to help) and these have inspired me to hang in there, knowing we can make a difference. I hope the insights I offer here will prove helpful and encourage folk to make a difference. One thing is sure; a lot still needs doing.

Book 1: Last updated 06/03/20

22/02/20 Volunteering at St. Helen’s church winter night shelter

05/02/20 Attending a Council hosted collaborative event

10/12/19 Homelessness – controversies and conundrums

15/11/19 No recourse to public funds and homelessness

09/11/19 Regarding Street Spirit’s “bits and bobs” operation

05/11/19 Homelessness and the “revolving door syndrome”

04/11/19 Building houses on Fossetts Farm

28/09/19 Southend town centre business and soup kitchens

21/09/19 Reviewing Southend’s Soup Kitchens (2)

01/06/19 Supporting “Off the Streets”

14/04/19 Ferndale CWNS 2018/19 – my final report

06/04/19 How I see homelessness – then and now

23/03/19 Ferndale CWNS 2018/19 – my end of season report

27/02/19 Homelessness – Showing Respect and Book Covers

19/02/19 Homelessness – NRPF, Rough Sleeper Count, Weekends

09/02/19 Homelessness – Britain’s shame

26/01/19 Ferndale CWNS 2018/19 – my mid term report

20/12/18 Homelessness and Christmas

13/12/18 When to NOT help the homeless

06/12/18 Homelessness and sofa surfing – Anne Atkins nails it

03/12/18 Homelessness, religion and politics

02/11/18 Southend Church Winter Night Shelters 2018/19

16/10/18 Addressing Southend’s homeless situation

20/09/18 Tony Adams and homeless addiction

02/09/18 What to do about homeless people sleeping in tents?

26/08/18 Reviewing Southend’s Soup Kitchens

18/08/18 Homeless people, seeking benefits, opening bank accounts

22/07/18 Returning to Street Spirit

27/04/18 Town centre homeless challenges

25/04/18 About Street Spirit

10/04/18 New Mission launched to help towns homeless

29/03/18 The Homeless Reduction Act – what differences to expect

23/03/18 Off the streets

05/03/18 A homeless response in a snowy week

28/02/18 A new homeless night shelter for Southend

25/02/18 Homelessness – what to do when it is really cold?

04/02/18 Southend’s drug habit and homelessness

21/12/17 Homelessness and the Christmas story

15/12/17 Homeless Information (2)

13/12/17 Open our churches to the homeless

12/12/17 Dogs – a night shelter manager’s perspective

10/12/17 2017 Church Winter Night Shelters – the story so far

28/11/17 Should we give to beggars?

22/11/17 Not having enough affordable accommodation

22/11/17 Homeless quiz

19/11/07 Not a homeless case worker

17/11/07 Petition for doing more to help the homeless

15/11/07 Southend – swamped by rough sleepers

07/11/17 Overnight sleepers wanted

28/10/17 57 West has moved to 6 Clarence Road

09/10/17 ‘Aggressive beggars terrorise our streets’

20/09/17 Southend Church Winter Night Shelters – 2017-18

18/09/17 Tea, the homeless and attitudes to giving

11/09/17 Sleeping in doorways

25/08/17 Homeless statistics

23/10/17 When / where to donate food / money to the homeless

09/08/17 What do you do when you see the homeless?

03/08/17 Sleeping bags always needed

28/07/17 Homeless burnout

16/07/17 Where do we send the homeless for help?

13/07/17 Covenant and Church for Rough Sleepers

01/07/17 Rough sleepers set up loading bay camp

30/05/17 Southend’s Soup Kitchens

13/05/17 Clothes for the homeless

13/04/17 Street Spirit – ways to help the homeless

25/03/17 Reflections of a homeless night shelter manager (2)

27/02/17 Alcoholism and Homelessness

12/02/17 Reflections of a homeless night shelter manager

06/02/17 Squatters in Southend

27/01/17 SHAN Presentation

14/01/17 Rough sleepers and cold weather

11/12/16 My homeless dream

06/12/16 Smart ways to feed the homeless

28/11/16 Helping at the Ferndale Night Shelter – 2016/17

21/11/16 Another season of night shelters beckons

21/10/16 Homeless man stabbed; No place to call home

23/09/16 No go areas created by rough sleepers

13/09/16 Homeless Reduction Bill (2)

27/09/16 Homeless Reduction Bill

31/07/16 Homelessness as I see it right now

09/05/16 Homelessness – an increasing problem

12/03/16 Night Shelter time – about to end

10/03/16 Famous, Rich and Homeless

26/02/16 Addiction, mental health and homelessness

12/02/16 Southend – dumping ground for the homeless

08/02/16 Dreams and night shelters

03/02/16 Homeless deaths

23/01/16 Sleeping bags for the homeless

21/01/16 Commissioning homeless services

16/01/16 Homelessness – stickability

06/01/16 Why we need a Homeless Prevention Strategy

01/01/16 Homeless campers evicted

20/12/15 Dual diagnosis and homelessness

15/12/15 Helping the homeless at Christmas

05/12/15 Accommodating the homeless with complex needs

28/11/15 Night Shelter – first night reflections

26/11/15 Evicting homeless campers from Southend seafront

26/10/15 Benedictine hospitality and tough love

13/10/15 If you see people begging

05/10/15 Thoughts about SHAN

17/09/15 About Street Spirit

19/08/15 Homeless man left to die

17/08/15 Rough sleepers dying

11/08/15 Southend’s homeless population

27/07/15 Sleeping bags for rough sleepers

25/07/15 Homelessness is always with us

15/07/15 We’re doing all we can

14/05/17 Homeless-on-Sea

02/07/15 HARP

02/07/15 57 West (East) and the homeless

23/06/15 Southend Rough Sleeper Leaflet

06/06/15 Warrior Square Soup Kitchen

04/06/15 Homeless kicked out of shelter

11/05/15 Homelessness – back to reality

19/04/15 Homeless information

18/04/15 Britain’s housing crisis

28/03/15 Winter Night Shelters ending

17/02/15 Street Spirit – sleep out

08/02/15 Housing the homeless

03/02/15 Helping rough sleepers!?

30/01/15 Rough sleeper practicalities

06/01/15 The politics of homelessness

29/12/14 Homelessness and ping-pong

20/12/14 Policing homelessness

20/11/14 Counting Rough Sleepers

23/10/14 Homelessness & mental health

30/09/14 Night Shelter time again

01/09/14 Homelessness practicalities

22/08/14 Homeless solutions (2)

07/08/14 Homeless solutions (1)

22/07/14 Street Spirit

28/06/14 Housing Justice

13/06/14 Rent deposit schemes

08/06/14 Helping the homeless

30/03/14 Church Winter Night Shelters

03/03/14 Myths about rough sleeping



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