“A good day for me would be to have a couple of hundred bucks aha. Every day, I come here, and I read. I also sometimes do a bit of shopping. I like going to museums, they are free, the one next to the Library is nice. It’s probably my favourite one.”
These people won’t.
Every day, on my way to uni, I notice a lot of homeless people who are being ignored. At first, it broke my heart to think that I was unable to do anything, but I then realised that there is always something you can do.
I have been trying to find recent statistics to illustrate the problems of homelessness in Leeds, but it is difficult to find any concrete representation of the issue. Indeed, homelessness is hidden, and not talked about enough. What I do know is that many cities in the UK, including Leeds, have witnessed a drastic increase in the number of homeless people in recent years.
I have taken this definition from Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, which says the following: ‘You should be considered homeless if you have no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world available for you to occupy. You don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be considered homeless.’
This is why the problem stays out of conversations so often. Most people do no understand – or refuse to acknowledge – that young people ‘sofa surfing’, without a permanent place to stay are homeless.
Leeds, however, has lots of hard working organisations and groups supporting people in need.One of them is part of the University of Leeds.
I recently decided to embark on a project to record the voices of these homeless individuals, asking them to tell me a little bit about them, allowing them to be heard.
This is my small way of helping, raising awareness of their situation, by showing students that these people are humans too and that everyone has the opportunity to help. As I really wanted to do a little more, I decided to do my interviews with HOMED, which organises a weekly sandwich run, providing the homeless with food, gloves, and hot drinks. As well as having a good time, meeting new people and having a rewarding experience, I am helping others, and that’s what matters.
“Seven and a half year later, and I’m here. In prison, they promised me everything. I would get out, have a flat, a job, everything I’d need. I’ve been to every job interview, every opportunity I had, never missed any. But everything that was promised to me never happened. I was very good, I quit drinking and drugs and as soon as I got out, they put me right back in this shit. I was kicked out of the home I was put in, and you know, I don’t mind sleeping outside as long as I have a good sleeping bag, but what I mind, is that they lied to me, all these promises never came to anything.”