After parking my car to pick up a few beers & something to eat after work, I deliberately avoid eye contact with a beggar outside the supermarket. I did offer a thought to purchase an extra item for him, but quickly dismissed this idea & paid for my shopping and carried on with my cosy life that evening. Later in the week, I did think again about this episode, & I did feel somewhat ashamed of myself & decided to research a little bit about homelessness. The findings shocked me. As the Guardian reported: ‘In winter, sleeping rough can easily mean death: the average age of death for a homeless woman is 43, whilst for a homeless man, the age rises slightly to 46’. Even surviving a single day is a tremendous ordeal, Rough sleepers find it extremely difficult to gain access to proper housing & employment, as they don’t have a permanent address. Also, for many, the lack of identification documents bars an application to a Simple Payment Card to collect benefit payments. Perhaps most disturbing for me, as a survivor of mental illness, 40% of those who are homeless in UK have at least on mental health problem.
Will I now do anything different if I encounter a homeless individual? I would like to think yes. Maybe not with a gift of money, but of food & a little bit of human kindness in a world that often doesn’t care.
Photo credit: The independent.