• Michael Christou

Where is Shelter for our homeless?

Updated: Dec 11, 2018

(Local Portsmouth homeless man, Kevin, 27)

The answer to this question is quite simple - there is very little shelter for the homeless in the UK resulting in so many of them dying on the streets, so what's being done?

The lack of shelter for our homeless is shocking. City officials spend a lot of time and energy keeping the homeless off public furniture and out of certain public areas when they should be considering how to better manage the issue of homelessness and get them into permanent accommodation. From 2018 to 2020 Portsmouth City Council has been given £384k to help decrease homelessness. This budget must be spent correctly and used to help find accommodation for people in need.

The issue of homelessness is rising continuously and is often ignored by society. People of all ages walk past the homeless community (young or old) ignoring them - not even sparing a glance or a penny. If the entire country does this, then who is going to help them… you?

The general public cannot afford to ignore the ever-rising problem as it is literally in front of us on a daily basis - the increase in the number of homelessness means we can't afford to step over the problem anymore. People must become more involved, then and only then, can we begin eradicating homelessness so everyone has a home in our society. We must help with financial, medical and emotional support.  There is one way of tackling the lack of homeless shelter in the UK and that is experimental housing, such as portable or micro housing.

the Ikozi

An example of this type of accommodation is The iKozie, which measures 17.25 square metres and is split into four areas. The Guardian’s verdict on this housing solution is: “tiny but not cramped. Brilliant insulation meant it was very warm -it felt surprisingly spacious.”

The iKozie costs £40,000 to build and would act as a stepping stone to move people from hostels and other managed establishments into their own accommodation, where they can live independently. Providing organized and appropriate accommodation will allow a homeless person to focus on the things that matter such as getting a job and applying for relevant benefits. All they have to worry about will be food and day to day essentials. Most importantly, they will be able to save money for the local council long term.

I approached a local homeless person in Portsmouth and asked him whether people do enough for the homeless cause and he stated: “I just want exposure to the topic, I just want people to notice me because I am here. People don't know what’s going on and what the council are doing.”

For this individual, the council’s help is his only escape from his homeless plight. Instead of being helped the council move them on as this homeless individual explained: “my stuff has been taken [by the council] three times in the past month” this begs the question how are the homeless supposed to gain a permanent home when the authorities supposed to help them are actually doing the opposite?

There is not only one type of homelessness, the most common type is known as street homelessness - the type that will benefit through new shelters. Other types of homelessness are unstable implications or sofa surfers. The definition is “if they have no home they are homeless” stated Scott Jowett, despite  other misunderstood stereotypes. This is not acceptable. Coping with a lack of funding from the government who take the same role as the public in ignoring the homeless group should no longer be tolerated.

The issue is fast becoming a crisis in our cities as it was estimated in 2017 that 4,500 people were sleeping on the streets of British cities each night. This is an increase of 15% since 2016 and an overall increase of 169% since 2010. With the government not contributing enough with funding for shelters and basic monitoring of the homelessness, especially in Portsmouth, the issue has worsened.

New Saints is a charity I have been in contact with who work closely with these vulnerable people and have key insight into the situation the council are currently dealing with.This ongoing crisis has already affected the economy and affected businesses.

Scott Jowett who was previously homeless who now works for the charity in Portsmouth - stated “I want to be the person I wish I had in that situation”. Two Saints are an organization that aims to help young adults to get back on their feet and back into the world. Two Saints will place you on a waiting list and depending on your situation. Once housed you can be housed for up to a year. volunteer, Mr. Jowett states:‘If you were to come to us and we referred you to the local authority, they could point you towards a youth hostel or a food bank.’

Editor : ZoëIngram | Instagram: ingra.m_writing18

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