Progress and Problems;
Updated: Jul 22, 2021
the homeless crisis.
The effect of being physically ‘homeless’ is often viewed on a surface level, one sees a person sleeping in a shop doorway, or asking for donations of food, generally trying to survive EVERY SINGLE DAY. And although this leads to the general public becoming aware of the problems facing individuals in THEIR community - which ultimately helps charities like us, Clothing Collective, it also means that we get stuck on the day-to-day basis, not the future. This pressing need for temporary housing, food, and clothing (a cause close to our hearts), typically leaves the bigger issues untouched, the question; How do we permanently stop homelessness? Is left unanswered, too overwhelming to even approach when people have no food in their stomachs or warm clothing to protect them. And thus, the vicious cycle is only ever temporarily solved.
The last month, however, has seen significant progress in tackling the economic inequality between the housed and the homeless. Or really between those fortunate human beings and those currently suffering, people, nonetheless, in help and often forgotten. During the Black Lives Matter movement, we were educated to instruct and utilise the phrase ‘Check your privilege’, and although, this was confined to racial inequality, I don’t believe homelessness is exempt from this approach either. The term championed during the BLM gained a huge appreciation, and importance through its ability to educate, and combined with the Covid Pandemic one’s HUGE privilege to have a place or space to call home, to have friends and family within a space to declare home, and even to be lucky enough to have a garden to deem ours has been valued unlike never before. And now 65% of homeowners are planning to renovate their homes due to the pandemic, to value their space. So, shouldn’t we now realise the up-most importance of a home, and the privilege to have one.
Just image the pandemic without your home.
But for a homeless person, this lack of privilege is a constant reminder as they are forced to move from location to location, unfixed and disillusioned from communities and society. And although what we do as a charity is VITAL to providing temporary relief, everyone wants to see a big change, the huge ambition of solving this raging, and decades-long pandemic of homelessness, forever. Our donations provide clothing to those in dire need and can alter their time on the streets for the better, but what if they no longer needed to rely on us, what if we didn’t face homelessness. As a community, a region, a country, a world without this social inequality and injustice, what if? Well, this question or conundrum has been significantly aided through the last month by a brand new, scheme – Shelter X HSBC UK.
A ground-breaking new initiative – The No Fixed Address programme
Shelter is a HSBC UK national charity partner, one of six, since 2018, and are now proud to deliver this influential scheme. An initiative that combines the works of charities to progress people to a future with a home, and economic security. Through the simple act of allowing the homeless to open a bank account!
Shelter X HSBC UK are supporting those with NO PREVIOUS OR FIXED ADDRESS to open a bank account. Vitally allowing people to save, earn, and secure their money and benefits, to have a sense of security in what is often a period of great uncertainty and vulnerability.
One drawback is that the scheme is currently operating in conjunction with Shelter in only 10 national locations: Birmingham, London, Bournemouth, Bristol, Sheffield, Blackburn, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. To gain access one needs to be receiving support from Shelter, and if not contact should be made, they also hope to expand this year and beyond to more hubs throughout the UK.
To open, or help someone, open a Shelter X HSBC UK bank account, one should;
- Check the list of charity partners in your region, make a call to the charity, or visit them online, and subsequently complete their online referral document.
- Your caseworker will contact your local designated HSBC UK branch to arrange an appointment.
- Once the appointment is completed and the account approved and opened, any information regarding your account will be delivered through your local charity address.
This scheme highlights the benefit of developing and delivering schemes tailored for the homeless and the problem of not having a fixed address. An address is vital, for postage, for registering to your GP service, to gaining formal ID, and accessing education and without it, life is considerably harder. Local Healthwatch across England have spoken to over 1,200 people who are currently experiencing some form of housing poverty to ask them how the problem of fixed address still limits them.
Access to Services
- A lack of fixed address or formal ID, due to not having an address, can often lead to a closed-door immediately! Or worse a lack of phone credit or free telephone lines combined with exponential increases in GP appointment wait times will block homeless people from adequate health care services. And without a fixed address it often remains difficult to attend appointments, collect prescriptions or stick to health care advice.
- Still, GP practices will sometimes reject patients if they have no address, which can either flood A&E will unnecessary homeless patients due to not having access at the GP level or disenfranchise them permanently causing a dramatic decline in their health. It is worth noting that an address IS NOT legally required by GP practices, so why is this happening? Healthwatch has been informed of at least 5 regions currently doing this.
- Also, the status of being homeless some felt left them unlikely to attend GP appointments since their doctor or nurse didn’t understand their circumstances, preventing them from accessing a full health care package.
This starkly illustrates the progress and problems currently facing homeless people in our communities, and while Shelter X HSBC UK is a HUGE step forward, charities like us, Clothing Collective are critical to helping those on our streets now, through the providing of warm, waterproof, suitable clothing. Through your monetary donations, we can provide vouchers for charity shops, allowing a free and independent service for those currently struggling to be aided. An essential service of which any monetary donations would be gratefully received. Thank You.
To help those in need, you can make donations to the Clothing Collective [here]
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