Homelessness has become quite a huge problem within the UK since 2010 with all the austerity and cuts being made to benefits and public services, tax going up, general day to day things going up in price have all taken a huge impact on those who were just above the poverty line within this country. The statistics show that in 2016 there were recorded on average 4134 people per day in the UK sleeping rough each night. This is an increase on 565% from the year before (3569 rough sleepers per night). In 2016 there had been a 134% increase in the amount of rough sleepers within the UK from 2010. 134% increase in six years… for the fifth largest economy in the world… it just begs the question, who does the system really work for?
As Break the Chains is a campaign based in Coventry, West Midlands; I will be focusing on rough sleeping within Coventry and our neighbors Birmingham to highlight how big of an issue this is. Birmingham had the highest level of rough sleepers within the West Midlands in 2016 with 55 people sleeping rough per night, the next highest was Walsall with 26 and Coventry was joint 8th with 13 rough sleepers per night. What we have to remember however is that these are recorded rough sleepers, the numbers in reality are likely to be a lot higher than this. Furthermore, the West Midlands accounts for 7% of the total amount of rough sleepers in the UK in 2016 which again is still a problem that needs to be tackled by local authorities and the people within the West Midlands.
People can become homeless for many many reasons; however the most common reasons people go homeless is that a friend or family member is no longer able to provide them with support or because of relationship breakdowns. There are other aspects that affect the likelihood of individuals becoming homeless such as poor physical health, mental health problems, alcohol/drug abuse, bereavement, and people who have been in care or experienced the criminal justice system.
A recent study done showed that there is a 77% chance that someone could sleep rough; a 53% chance they could be involved in street drinking; a 32% chance that they could beg and a 10% chance that they could be involved in prostitution. The average cost of an A&E visit by a homeless person cost £147 and that 4 in 10 people who are experiencing homelessness have used A&E within the past six months.
Other shocking facts are that the average cost per arrest of a homeless person committing a crime was £1668 and that 7 out of 10 homeless ex offenders are reconvicted within one year which clearly shows us that the justice system is not helping those who commit crime to stop. It cost the taxpayer on average £26,000 per homeless person bringing the annual cost of homelessness up to £1billion as an estimate. These facts show the harsh reality of homelessness and how it affects us all even if we are not the homeless ones.
We need to support charities who deal with homelessness such as Shelter and Crisis among many others whether this be volunteering or donating to make a difference. In addition to this, many religious places have set up foodbanks to donate food to the homeless and again people could find out and help their local Church, Mosque, Mandir, or Gurdwara to help the less fortunate.
If anyone has spare clothes they want to get rid of, they should give them to these charities or possibly these places of worship to give to the homeless and if you can afford to do so, donate some tinned food or anything you can afford to local foodbanks and charities that help the homeless because without the support of each other, we cannot beat homelessness and stop these people from suffering. Break the Chains is proud to say that we are working with various organisations and places to come to deals which can benefit the poor and the homeless within Coventry to live better lives and more details will be given once things are put into place.