There are many things we take for granted, two of which are having a roof over our heads and food on the table. Most of us are fortunate enough to have the security of both these things – and so much more.
But for more than 105,000 Australians, there is no roof, and healthy meals are a scarcity. On any given night, 1 in 200 people are homeless in Australia. Yes, it’s a shocking statistic! Even more frightening is the fact that, of the homeless population, more than 27% are under the age of 18!
On the Gold Coast alone, there are approximately 3,000 homeless people who are either sleeping rough, living in emergency accommodation or relying on a friend or other person to give them a place to sleep.
“They’re all just druggies and drunks!” . . .
There’s a perception within some sectors of the community that homeless people are often drug addicts or alcoholics. While there are some homeless people who suffer substance abuse issues, certainly not all of them do. Having listened to some homeless people’s stories, it makes you realise how many of them are the victims of circumstance.
Sadly, the fastest growing group are young people under 18, followed by families with small children.
Why people become homeless
There are a broad range of reasons why people become homeless. Some of these include: A chronic shortage of affordable, available rental housing options, poverty, domestic violence, long-term unemployment, severe mental illness, psychological distress, substance abuse issues and those who have been released from prison or state care.
How can we help?
So I did a little bit of research to find out some ways we can help ease the everyday lives of those who find themselves without a home. These are the options I came up with:
- Volunteer for a charity which helps the homeless, such as OzHarvest (food rescue and redistribution), Rosie’s (food van) or You Have a Friend (food /care distribution).
- Donate to the Red Cross, Salvation Army or Mission Australia.
- Support campaigns such as Share the Dignity, by packing a handbag with personal care and sanitary items. Share the Dignity will then deliver these bags women in need.
- Support the Pay a Sack Forward campaign, where just $5 buys 1 survival sack containing basic items such as food and hygiene products.
- If you see someone who is begging or appears homeless, consider buying them a meal or a coffee.
By helping someone less fortunate, you won’t just make their day – or week … it might make your day too.
Do you have any suggestions for helping out our homeless people? Have you volunteered or done something to help a homeless person?
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