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I recently started a job as a homeless support worker, and believe me when I say that no statistic can prepare you for the stark reality of homelessness in Tory Britain.
It would be easy to assume that the stereotypes are true when it comes to rough sleepers. Surely they’re all shaggy, bearded men who refuse to get a job? Or perhaps they’re rebellious teenagers who won’t go back to the family home after a petty argument? Not so. The reality is that the people coming through the doors of the night shelter are from all walks of life. That shouldn’t really be surprising, considering almost a third of people experience homelessness at some stage. But it’s often a challenge for even the most decent of people to re-wire their brain to reject inherent assumptions made on innate prejudices.
What kinds of people do become homeless then?
Well, there are those deemed ‘fit for work’ by the government: no longer able to claim ESA, and forced to leave their home. There are NHS employees, forced to seek help after they dedicated their lives to helping others. There are LGBTQ+ people, cast out by parents whose prejudices have overruled their parental responsibilities.
It might and/or could be remedied, were we not living under one of most heartless UK governments in recent history. As it stands, Theresa May and her cronies have shown little interest in bettering the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, homeless or otherwise. It was recently confirmed that housing benefit would be scrapped for 18-21 year olds, for example. And it’s hard to imagine Theresa having any sympathy for LGBTQ+ people facing discrimination, considering her mixed voting record on the matter.
I cannot speak for all of my colleagues, or my employer, but the general consensus is that government policy is directly leading to an increase in rough sleeping. Not only that, but even declining living standards for those who are already homeless.
The fact is, homeless people typically die as much as 30 years younger than the average citizen. As long as we have a government in charge that values its wealthiest so much more than its vulnerable, this is the stark reality. Five more years of Tory rule will be a death sentence for thousands of people across the UK. Nobody who considers themselves to be a responsible and good human being should allow this to happen.
I am fortunate enough to help homeless people on a daily basis, assisting them as best I can to secure somewhere to live again. You can help too. The easiest and most straightforward thing you can do, is to go make your vote count on Thursday at the polling booth.
Let’s make June the end of May.