There is a good couple of quotes in this article by Ally Fogg about the homeless protesters in Manchester.
Poverty rarely breaks into the sunlight and presents itself unashamedly to the world. The usual nature of hunger, homelessness, destitution and desperation is to lurk, shy and embarrassed below the surface of public consciousness.
The homeless camp’s acting solicitor, Ben Taylor, said recently: “My concern is that this draconian order would result in a homeless person facing the threat of prison simply for being homeless.”
Having worked with homeless folks for a number of years I think there needs to be a major shift in our understanding of homelessness. It seems to me that folks think if they provide shelter they have provided a home. This is not a UK problem it is worldwide. The trouble is providing shelter is not providing a home.
I worked with a homeless Mum who had 3 children. We worked hard to get the Council to provide for her. Their initial solution was bed and breakfast. A single room with a single double bed. Shared facilities and no kitchen. The next day the Council seem to think they had finished with the family – a home had been provided.
That was not a home. It was not a home, it was shelter, a bit more than a tent but still only shelter.
So what is a home? A building, a shelter, a person’s country, dwelling, a place of residence.
Having just bought an affordable house, I would define a home as a place of retreat, a place to feel comfortable, a place to rest and relax, a place to experiment, to paint, to create, to read, to grow old, to be young, to play, to have fun.
I made a list the other day and called it, “What do we want our home to look like?”
I wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:
- a school
- a playground
- a refuge
- a place of retreat
- a place for first aid, for healing
- a place of encouragement
- a safe place for personal expression, sharing, and growth.
When we provide a home for a family can we be sure to ask them what they want from their home.
Any got a spare £100m out there. I would love to talk to you about building an affordable social housing scheme that puts people first not buildings.