The Homeless in England

Introduction

I decided to study the homeless\' situation before we went to England, so I tried
to get information about it via the internet, but it was so much information
that I soon gave up...

When we got to England I thought about changing subject to the pub culture
because it seemed easier to write about, but after a few days I had seen so many
homeless people that I got used to it and therefor dared to talk to them and ask
them questions about their situation and why they where homeless. Many people
just walked right by the homeless without even look at them (rather the reverse,
look another way), but other people stopped to talk to them and buy their paper.

I\'ve used the homeless people as sources and also their paper. When I came home
I searched on the internet to get information and there was a lot of it, so I
choosed some headings and took a closer look at them.

Who\'s homeless?

I thought, before I went to England, that every homeless person was that by
his/her own choice, but after talking to them and read about it I know that some
of the homeless is that by their own choice. They choose to be homeless for
different reasons, like a protest against the society or just to try the
homeless life.

25% of the homeless are war veterans and most of them from Vietnam. They are
mentally traumatised by their war experiences, some of them are disable and
others are just unable to find work so they can pay a rent.

25% of the homeless are children and many of them are alone. They\'re maybe run-
aways who left home because there was no food at home, or because they\'re
victims of rape, incest or violence. Many of them are "throwaways", whose
parents tell them to leave home or won\'t allow them to return home once they\'ve
left.

Many of the homeless are elderly people with fixed income, and I guess that\'s
not the traditional image of homeless people. They receive about £450 a month in
benefits and if they pay £350 for rent it\'s pretty logical that they can\'t live
a decent life. Many elderly people are living in poverty in an apartment with no
proper heating, no water etc., and many of the elderly homeless are afraid to go
to soup kitchens or shelters, so they aren\'t seen on the streets.

Myths

There\'s a lot of myths going around about the homeless. Very often these myths
are told by someone without any or with just a little knowledge about the
homeless people and their life. Here\'s some of the myths:

Myth: They want to be homeless.

Fact: Some of them yes, but less than 6% of the homeless are homeless
by their own choice. I spoke to a man who told me he used to live in Scotland,
and that he had a house of his own, a TV, a VCR and so on, but after a
concert in London about a year ago, he decided to stay in Brighton to try
"the homeless life". Now he tried to earn money, so he could get home to
Scotland again.

Myth: They are heavy drug users and mentally ill.

Fact: About 25% of the homeless are emotionally disturbed, but that has a lot
to do with that many of them has suffered from child abuse or violence.
About 25% uses drugs, but many of them are included in them who suffers from
mental illness.

Myth: They don\'t work.

Fact: 25% of the homeless work full- or part- time. The problem is that people
earning a minimum wage doesn\'t earn enough to support a family of three
or rent an apartment in the inner-city. There\'s also many of the homeless
people who aren\'t able to work and there\'s many reasons why.
Paper

The homeless in England has their own paper called The Big Issue. They write
about things that might interest themselves, but also about homeless people, so
that the people buying it can read about the homeless\' situation. The homeless
people buys the paper for 40p and sell it for 70p, but to earn more money they
say they don\'t have change for a pound.

In The Big Issue I bought I read about a girl who cut herself and walked in the
streets with bleeding arms. Nobody seemed to care, she said, or maybe they were
afraid...

How to help?

On the internet I found a lot of ways to help the homeless, but some of the
things were not realistic...at least not in my opinion.