Homelessness is incomprehensible in a prospering modern society: believing in equal rights for all independent of race, creed or background. The people experiencing homelessness and the aid that they receive from all parties within Thanet will be the focus of this project.
Throughout this project the scale of the homelessness problem in Thanet will be outlined, highlighting the increase year by year. The Winter Shelter Case Study will also demonstrate that modern homelessness doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or educational attainment.
I will then go on to outline the forms of support for the homeless in Thanet provided by statutory bodies but more importantly the voluntary sector and the assistance given by the general public, as well as discussing existing aid that is not being accessed by a high proportion of the homeless population and the typical stereotypes a homeless person is labelled with and how they are not factually based.
The inspiration for choosing this topic came whilst I was volunteering at Thanet Winter Shelter at the time of this project’s creation. I witnessed first hand the positive impact the voluntary sector had on the street homeless population that I will continue to volunteer each year but wanted to use this project as a way of raising awareness of this issue and sharing some case studies.
Since the beginning of the human race intraspecific competition has lead to the destruction of communities and populations, but in this ‘modern world’ living organisms have equal rights and should be treated equally regardless of their genetic makeup. In a complex modern society with a developed healthcare system the human race no longer have the animalistic instinct to reproduce, passing on their genetic information expeditiously due to the longevity of live no longer being based upon natural selection.
Disappointingly, competition for essential components to life such as food and shelter still exists and can be witnessed daily when glancing at any person who is homeless.
These people that the homeless population consists of are in their current predicament as result of this competition. These homeless populations in Thanet are denied the basic rights which any other living organism receives, in spite of the fact that in 2017 68% of the guests at TWS became homeless through no fault of their own.
Anybody can become homeless due to unforeseen events occurring, the case study highlights this and reinforces the statement.
An ancient Chinese philosopher called Confucius once remarked that in “A country run well, poverty is a thing to be ashamed of”, something which our well economically developed country exemplifies.
The definition of the word homeless as according to the Oxford dictionary is “(Of a person) without a home and therefore typically living in the streets”, however the practical definition is far more diverse. It is not mandatory that one must be permanently dwelling on the streets to be labelled homeless, even a person sleeping in a habitable building can still be without a home. It is possible to be defined as homeless if you are permanently staying in a hostel/hotel, with friends or family or living in overcrowded conditions. The practical definition of the homeless label and the list to which it can be applied is exhaustive as you can also be classed as being homeless if there is a risk of domestic violence in your home, your living conditions are poor to the extent that they are health-damaging or they are no suitable to your need due to sickness or disability. Displayed in the TWS case study, which reinforces the diverse list of ways in which a person could be called homeless.
Homelessness is a monumental problem and affects a wide range of people, some are more likely to become homeless than others as they have fewer rights, particular needs or are less able to cope by themselves, such as the elderly or people with children, taking priority over middle aged men and women who are less vulnerable as they are low priority in the banding system used by the Thanet council.
As part of this project I also want to increase awareness of how people become homeless in hoping to reduce the number that does so, some of these reasons include: being evicted by your landlord, health problems or addiction. Additionally 29% of guests at TWS became homeless through a relationship breaking down, an unforeseeable factor, with several of the guests being made redundant and as such became homeless.It is impossible to list all the possible ways homelessness arises as it could occur through any medium due to any controllable or uncontrollable factor
When referencing the fact that anyone could be made homeless due to any reason is made clear.
My title for this project is ‘How and to what extent are Homeless people supported in Thanet?’, this is a question I am going to answer and will go about such by breaking down the question into the aid and support given by all parties, but shift the main focus towards charities and volunteer organisations as the data for which is most accessible and obtainable in the necessary time period.
What does being homeless mean?
The definition of the word homeless as according to the Oxford dictionary is “ (Of a person) without a home and therefore typically living in the streets”, yet the act of being homeless has a deeper psychological meaning also, as made clear in my introduction there are copious numbers of categories that fall into under the broad definition of being ’homeless’.
Comparison of statistics
The statistic released by Thanet council as of November 2017 state that there are 33 people sleeping rough in thanet and a much larger figure of 441 people being without dwelling, however the data that I have collected first-hand whilst volunteering over the winter in 2017 through to february 2018 differ . Through the information that I collected whilst volunteering with Thanet Winter Shelter (TWS) from December 2017 through to February 2018 from 126 referrals, there were 52 confirmed guests in total, the majority of which came from Thanet District Council Housing options, all of whom can be classified as homeless as they were all rough sleeping.
It is clear from both statistics that there is a difference of 19 people between the statistics presented by Thanet council and the data I personally collected and verified. It is highly unlikely that the constituent people making up this 37% difference all became homeless in the space of just less than a month when considering that some of the people mentioned in the government’s statistics would have been housed or placed in temporary accommodation and as such wouldn’t be staying in the shelter. When factoring in the latter point it is clear that Thanet Council are unaware of a large number of individuals within the homeless population, despite the fact that they referred 89% of all guest, leading me to question their capability in managing the homeless and reducing the number of rough sleepers, as their published statistics were incorrect by a substantial margin.
All of which causes me to speculate that Thanet Council are unaware of a significant portion of the homeless population, an issue that will be later discussed in the project. As the council are unable to manage the situation independently the 3rd sector and charitable organisations, such as TWS, Aspire and the Salvation Army, aid in the managing and reduction of the homeless population. It is the aid given by the 3rd sector that is the predominant focus of my project. The data to support this was personally collected so that its accuracy can be assured as well as the data being unbiased.