Brian Douglas: Homeless people facing dangers daily on our streets
Despite what many may think they are human beings like each one of us, but being homeless without a roof over their heads leaves homeless people extremely vulnerable on the streets. It seems that if you have no place to stay and are left on the streets then you really have few rights and are seen by many as the lowest of the low, despite this not being the case. Its how the public reacts that forms opinion and its far from the reality in most cases.
I give an example as very recently a homeless young man was sprayed outside a mini market food store with toxic red paint. It covered him and the wall around him as the youths filmed this event being dishes out on their mobile phones. The case was reported to the police, but was simply logged and no action taken.
Now a day or so later this young man has died most probably from inhaling toxic spray paint. The public reaction from sensible people is one of horror and from internet trolls one that disgusts any person who has any decency.
In other cases homeless people have had petrol poured on them and set alight resulting in an agonising death whilst others have been kicked to death on the streets of our European cities and towns. Is this how the homeless should be treated I ask? Of course not, but in a Europe where there is unrest on the streets often and a lack of police often sited to a lack of funding for same I don’t see any upturn that is badly needed to help in these terrifying cases that happen and are on the rise in recent years.
Education is the answer for the public who are oblivious to the reasons of homelessness in many instances. Not all homeless ones on the streets are alcoholics or drug abusers.
Yes, they look rough as would any of us who have no place to keep up our hygiene standards when without accommodation and are refused entry into many retail establishments including those with wash rooms where they could have say a face wash daily.
Why? Well the answer is that these people are all too often seen as dirty, thieves or druggies who will steal despite only a small part of those on the streets being known thieves. Its not good for business to have that smelly person in our cafe drinking a coffee and eating a sandwich at our table is another answer from the business community despite the street dweller paying the full price for their coffee and sandwich! You see the perceptions of both the business community and the public at all levels in these instances together is negative.
Homelessness is not a crime and its a failing of society to accept what is facing them in the face and demanding something be done to resolve this problem. I know a man who looked after his sick Dad who died and God knows how this affected him, but he ended up on the streets sleeping rough and lost everything in life despite being under 30 years of age and with a good educational grade.
He was moved on by the police a few times and eventually taken to a street people centre, but after 3 nights he left siting the fact that others abused him verbally and that he couldn’t sleep because of the noise within the centre at nights. He simply didn’t feel safe.
There are many complaints about street people emergency accommodation centres and nothing is ever done to address these problems which must exist as are so many complaints from those willing to speak out. The public view is of indifference as they see these centres as better than being on the streets, but haven’t themselves experiences even a single night in such a place|!
On the streets is far from easy when you have no roof over your head and no funds and cannot even gain employment as have no fixed address, thus are truly stuck in a rut that you cannot get out of.
Some beg as a way of gaining funds for a meal, whilst others who have truly given up on life after seeing no hope end up purchasing alcohol, but not all. Others may offer themselves for menial work
that involves the things like farm work in return for a days pay or some food produce and is working on the black as no one will employ legally, thus the homeless person again has no rights.
Another huge failure in Europe today is to come up with a project that would provide basic low cost accommodation for homeless people. There are options I see like container dwellings that can be even stacked up to save space amongst other low cost dwellings, but Governments all the way down to local authorities fail to provide a viable project with a set budget to allow this basic low cost homes to became reality.
Governments do claim to spend more each year to address homelessness I note, but fail to account for what the funds are spent on and how many people they lifted out of homelessness!
If a person can be moved with support off the streets then the opening is there for employment that can bring them not only salary, but importantly for this group of people interaction with others in the workplace and in public life again. Not easy I know, but nothing in life is easy and is especially harder when you have been knocked down in life, though with support along the way repairability is possible.
Imagine the feeling when a person gains for the fist time a key to their own front door!! Maybe they would share with another likewise situated person the accommodation. Social support would be vital to these people in such an instance with education and counselling along the way and the compulsory registration at a family doctor to be able to have medical care when required.
After living on the streets many suffer illnesses that even they don’t realise they have and as such medical examinations are important and could be available once off the street in a care scheme.
Here though we need a change in opinions and a change in government and local authority attitudes to even look at opening such a scheme for homeless people and bringing them back into society again. Offering a street centre with a bed, some soup and bread and a shower is not enough as doesn’t offer the stability a person wounded as are homeless people to recover and re enter normal life in society!
The perception that homeless ones both men and women on the streets are dangerous is false. I know many and have never had any serious problems when speaking with them and helping them in the last years though some of course have serious problems including mental problems which I suppose anyone suffering on the streets week after week would eventually have, thus respect and kindness is the way to approach and help, however until the subject is more opened up within society of homelessness old perceptions will remain.
Many charities and private care institutions help the homeless and have done so with success including finding them accommodation even if only temporary, but here these charities depend on donations and can only help to a limit. The real answer is for European governments to accept the problem of these unfortunate people within their societies and act, rather than giving just lip service with no results whilst leaving the most vulnerable homeless ones open to danger and abuse.
Author Brian Douglas. 14/09/2018
Brian Douglas is a British born Humanitarian aid worker with over 24 years experience of working hands on with marginalized in Eastern Europe. Brian was awarded in 2016 a Gala Top 10 Award in Romania and in 2017 was awarded the British News Agency News247WorldPress ,,Person of the Year Award.”