What Can Students Do to Help the Homeless?

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Homelessness is a particularly pressing issue in the city of Southampton and there are a number of brilliant local charities that are working hard to tackle the problem. But other than supporting these charities, what else can we, as students, do to help? 

Wessex Scene has spoken to Stephanie Barker, President of Southampton student network HOMED. The union-affiliated group has two principal objectives, to “educate students about homelessness and its associated injustices” and to “challenge prejudice and stereotypes associated with those without a home“.

HOMED, which is also a registered charity, have created a handy business-style card that gives advice on what to do when you see someone sleeping rough.

homed-card

Until speaking to Stephanie, I was totally unaware of the existence of the Street Homeless Prevention Team and what they can do to assist homeless people. The service is very effective and able to help individuals access appropriate services that meet their needs and try to keep them off the streets. At this time of year, when it is bitterly cold, it is more important than ever that those sleeping rough are offered a lifeline. Making a quick phone call or writing a short email could make all the difference.

In addition to the information given on the card, Stephanie advises students, “to be compassionate, look them in the eye and say hello“. Personally, when I don’t have any change to give, out of guilt, I tend to I avoid eye contact and walk past quickly, but Stephanie explained to me that regardless of whether or not you want to give money, it is so important to treat homeless people as human beings. The last thing we need to do is further ostracise people that are already living outside the margins of society. On the HOMED blog, there is an eye-opening story about a student who actually sat and spoke with a homeless man in Portswood, which is definitely worth a read! We must remember that every homeless person we pass on the street has their own story and that homelessness is very rarely a choice.

If you are interested in volunteering with/donating to a homelessness charity, below are a list of the most prominent charities in the Southampton area:

The Society of Saint James – http://www.ssj.org.uk/

Two Saints – http://www.twosaints.org.uk/southampton-eastleigh-the-new-forest/

YMCA – http://www.ymca-fg.org/for-young-people/southampton/supported-housing-2/

More articles in Homelessness
  1. The Tories on Homelessness
  2. Homelessness Survey: The Results
  3. The Homeless Period
  4. Homelessness: What Can We Learn From Finland?
  5. What Can Students Do to Help the Homeless?
  6. An Interview with Steve Fletcher from Homeless Charity: ‘Above Us Only Sky?’
  7. Homelessness: Miracle Messages
  8. Local Council to Receive £400,000 to Help the Homeless
  9. What Do Food Banks Do?
  10. Swaythling Methodist Church Food Bank
  11. Homelessness: It’s Time to Break Down The Stereotype
  12. The Megabite Scheme: Helping the Homeless Without Giving Money
  13. New Pret A Manger on Highfield Campus Helping the Homeless
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Investigations Editor 2016/17. BA Spanish student, aspiring journalist and avid blogger (harriet-martin.com).

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