Written by Nia Templeman, RAG Week co-ordinator
The hardest part about coming back to university after the Christmas break was leaving the comfort of home. There really is no place like home. Halls are not quite as warm, the bed is not as comfy, the kitchens are pretty grimy, and the room is rather small.
But let’s rewind… When we think of our basic human needs, water, food and shelter come to mind, right? Well, how about those people who have no shelter, those people with nowhere to call ‘home’?
I want to raise the issue of homelessness. It isn’t really a subject we talk a lot about and I know it’s such an easy issue to avoid and ignore – but should it be so?
I know how easy it is to walk past somebody on the street and do nothing because I’ve done it – countless times. But I don’t want to feel okay with doing that anymore. I don’t want to get caught up in the comfort of my own existence.
Last year in London alone, 6508 people slept rough on the streets. That is the equivalent of 62% of all the undergraduates at the University of Bath.
The more I researched into homelessness in the UK, the more I realised how much of a huge issue it is. The government prioritises the prevention of homelessness, but what about finding housing for those who are already on the streets? The ‘Independent’ newspaper wrote an article in October about how ‘councils are failing to help the most vulnerable’ because they don’t tick the boxes to be considered a ‘priority’ and therefore there is no legal duty to help them find housing.
Before Christmas, I was fortunate enough to visit Julian House, a homeless shelter in Bath which provides shelter, rehabilitates and empowers people who have been living on the streets. I was told that the main cause for homelessness was relationship breakdown and often people have no other choice but to sleep rough. The work that Julian House does is great – building relationships with people who have been socially excluded and engaging with those who have been ignored. The 20+ projects that Julian House runs help reintroduce their clients into society and give them a sense of ownership in their services. One project that I visited was a Bike Workshop where old, unwanted bicycles are fixed and refurbished to be sold for a reasonable price. The financially sustainable enterprise provides skills and an occupation for clients which will also help them get back into employment. More information can be found on their website: http://www.julianhouse.org.uk/
As part of RAG Week, on Tuesday night the 3rd of March, participants slept rough on Parade in order to raise awareness and funds for Julian House. In order to see eye to eye with people facing difficult issues, we sometimes have to be prepared to experience a little bit of what they endure on a daily basis.
It’s not too late to donate: https://wssww.justgiving.com/teams/RAG-Sleepout-2015