In Britain alone, homelessness is a constantly increasing percentage of the population. Over 400,000 people are homeless in England, over 120,000 children. Contrary to popular belief, a person is not only classed as experiencing homelessness if they are sleeping on the streets, as it is any circumstance in which the person has no permanent safe location. Although this is a growing problem for our country, especially in cities such as London, it doesn’t seem to be a growing concern.

“There’s a lot they can do,” One man said when asked his opinion on the causes of homelessness. “I understand it is difficult to get a job in that state, but I don’t see many doing anything other than begging and panhandling. It makes our streets look dirty and unsafe.” He stated that he wants the problem solved both for society and the individuals affected, but doesn’t know “how to help besides giving them my hard-earned money for me and my family which could be wasted on drugs or alcohol”.  This is one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to this issue. Although many people are indeed victims of substance abuse and addiction, there is a large amount who have become homeless for other reasons, such as eviction, unemployment and illness. For women in particular, domestic violence can be a massive cause of homelessness.

“Once you are stuck in that cycle, it feels almost impossible to escape. My nights on the streets were in the darkest parts of my depression and it felt endless. Eventually, with help from St Mungo’s and Shelter, I found a job which paid for rooming in a hotel, then eventually rent. I owe my life to those people helping me”

With the rates of homelessness increasing, a lot of the people becoming victims are youths. In a ComRes study in 2017, it was said that: “When the poll data was scaled up to reflect the wider population, an estimated 1.3 million young people aged 16 to 24 have slept rough during the past year,” This is one in seven. Due to their age, lots of the causes of homelessness for teenagers are different than adults. They could be suffering from family issues, mental illness, or prone to youth offending. Along with this, at least a quarter of the young people who are experiencing homelessness identify as LGBT, estimated to be more than half a million youths, and they are five times more likely than their peers  to become homeless, either due to parental rejection or fear of it, abuse, violence or self-hatred related mental illness.

Not many people seem to be aware of this issue, and organisations such as Shelter, Llamau, Crisis and St Mungo’s are working hard to change this.

Yasmin Ammour - Norbury Manor BEC