Deconstructing the invisibility of homelessness, and how you can help.

Homelessness has become an even more pressing issue, reflecting the nations state, economically and socially disastrous. With 4.8% of the population unemployed and privately owned accommodation costs on the rise (7.9% since 2015); the threat of becoming homeless, a growing crisis. For many, there is a risk of deportation with the post Brexit policy (42% of London rough sleepers EU nationals).

This year’s struggles have levelled the playing field, showing that each person deserves equal aid, no matter the circumstances. 2020 should be the turning point, where we no longer treat homelessness as invisible. With a greater understanding on the process’s individuals face at local councils, and how you can take action to help those in need, we can improve the wellbeing of those in need, especially this holiday.

The last official government count estimated around 4,266 people were sleeping rough every night in the UK. But this statistic has been considered a great underestimate, those in homelessness having their circumstances changing daily. In London alone, the number of people reported sleeping rough in 2019/2020 was 10.7 thousand. Homelessness in the UK is predicted to continue to grow exponentially after the eviction ban is lifted; but for many, this remains an invisible crisis.

Many believe that homelessness is exclusively those who sleep rough on the streets, but homelessness takes many shapes and forms. Many are caught from moving between rough sleeping, temporary accommodation, and night shelters. Under section 184 of The Housing Act (1996), you must notify the council directly to be declared homeless. 

After declaration, you will wait to be assigned a housing officer to review your case. They will review how the council can support you under Section 188. In the meantime, some will be forced to sleep on the streets or sofa surf between friends and family. 

It is often embarrassing to declare yourself homeless to a local council, and even more un-dignifying to argue your case by presenting your entire life history to housing officers. An essential process when applying to receive temporary accommodation. 

Even when temporary accommodation is successfully provided, private accommodation is often used due to a lack of public housing. This means after a period, the tenant must vacate (often back into homelessness), due to uncompromising rent prices in the private sector. 

Those who are lucky enough to receive temporary accommodation, often living in unsatisfactory living conditions. Reports of families of 5 crammed in tiny B&B rooms have been circulating since 2015. With new pandemic conditions, this adds further health risks, and negative mental health impacts, on those already living in cramped and unhygienic conditions. 

For all those affected, the winter holiday season is an isolating and desperate time of year. Time is running out; our team at Look Around are in desperate need of your kind contributions to help those struggling this holiday. 

What can you do? 

Here at Look Around, we have been coordinating our Christmas Outreach programme to help those in need over the holidays. There are three ways you can get involved in the programme. 

  1. Donate warm clothes like scarves, gloves, hats, jumpers, socks, duvets, blankets. With the temperature dropping this time of year, it is important that those on the streets wrap up and stay warm. We accept both brand-new items and used, but please make sure used items are in good condition.
  2. Donate money to help us buy and prepare support packs. With your donations, we will put together non-perishable food items, sanitary items, and a hot drink for the homeless. Throughout the holidays, many will need essentials to maintain hygiene, prevent hunger and have some comfort.
  3. Join our team of volunteers. We are eager to accept those are willing to help us out on the frontline distributing support packs, giving hot drinks, and delivering a message of hope throughout December, January, and February. As a volunteer you will get to experience first-hand how Look Around improves the quality of life for those on the streets. 

For more information about the drop-off station for donations and inquiries about volunteering, please contact us via email on info@lookaround.org.uk or via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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