Homelessness: Miracle Messages

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Miracle Messages is a new and exciting program designed to reconnect homeless people with lost friends and family. I interviewed Zoe Soo and Lily Ghazali, on their mission in recruiting people to help promote the campaign.

miracle-messages
Credit: Miracle Messages

What is Miracle Messages and how did it come about? (Lily)

The founder, Kevin F. Alder established the charity in 2014 as a tribute to his Uncle Mark who was homeless and suffered from schizophrenia. Kevin came upon the idea of miracle messages when in San Francisco around Christmas-time, during which he befriended a homeless man. He got to know his past and his family, which led him to record a message for the man to send as a Christmas well-wish to his family. From there the film was  posted on social media, shared, discussed and through the power of social networking the man’s family found him! Through the influence of a simple short film and the help of the online community, he managed to connect this man with his family.

How does the idea work? (Lily)

The aim of the project is to reach out to the homeless community and to try and help them make contact with their lost family members or friends. A volunteer would go to shelters, soup kitchens, or interact on the street and talk to the individual, get to know them and their background. Then, with the help of social media, record a message from them making an appeal for their loved one. Then this is when the individual takes over to conduct a search. The film is uploaded online and the individual gets to play detective; in which using the information provided, can research, contact and share information which will  hopefully reach all corners of the country, even the world, with the hope of finding the person’s family.

What’s the homeless situation like in Southampton?

Credit: publicdomainpictures.net

As most of the students of Southampton are probably aware, there are a great deal of homeless people on the streets of Southampton; in shop doorways, bus stops and on park benches. In 2015, The Society of St. James helped over 2500 homeless people, with this number steadily rising. This program, or as referred to by the Miracle Message team; this ‘chapter’, is new to Southampton and is aimed at reducing this number by getting people off the streets and into homes with their families where they rightfully belong.

 

Has it been a good response? Is there much risk? 

Lily: As the program is still in its infancy, it has yet to reach out to many people. Hopefully this year more people can get involved, especially round the streets of Southampton, helping to reduce the increasing levels of homelessness around this area.

Zoe: You might seem a little apprehensive, at first, about approaching people on the streets, however, it is important to consider that these people are, at the end of the day, people with emotions, feelings, families and whose lives you could really make a huge difference too.

How do people get involved? What can they do? (Lily and Zoe)

Its so easy to get involved with the campaign and as students we can make a huge impact to the lives of many people living on the streets, this can be done by:

  • Visiting and signing up as a member of the team on the Miracle Messages website,  http://miraclemessages.org/getinvolved/
  • Get involved in fundraising and campaigning with the society of St James, website:  http://www.ssj.org.uk/
  • Help out at one of the Southampton community events, such as Portswoods Churches Big breakfast, held every third Saturday of the month to provide a warm breakfast for anyone who needs one.  http://www.portswood.org/what-we-do/serving-the-community
  • Contact Lily Ghazali and Zoe Soo on ldg2g15@soton.ac.uk and ys3g12@soton.ac.uk for information on how to help create a miracle message in Southampton.
  • Find them on Facebook: Miracle messages
More articles in Homelessness
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  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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