I've had quite a few people comment and email me about my earlier post of a family friend sleeping out to raise awareness for homelessness, so thought I'd give a bit of a weekly update.
The week hasn't been without its dramas.
It's been an absolutely terrible week weather wise, especially at
night. Lots of rain, 80km winds and very cold haven't made the sleep
out easy. He's had to tie a plastic cover over the box and hold it down
with bricks just to stop everything from blowing away.
A note was placed on his box one day telling him to leave and go somewhere else.
Two days the box was kicked and squashed by someone, and had to be rebuilt.
So today the original box was retired and a new one has replaced it.
Homelessness is NOT by choice.
During the week he also had a conversation with someone who believes that people who are homeless have chosen to be. There are many reasons someone is homeless, not because they're addicted to something, that may be the reason some people are homeless but not everyone. We've met people who are or have been homeless because their partner left them or are in bad relationships, they were made redundant from their job without notice, their rent went up more than they could afford. There are so many reasons someone has become homeless and it's definitely not something most people would choose.
“Did you know statistics show that 1 in 200 people in
Australia were homeless last year? If we compare that to the Yarra
Ranges population of approximately 144,000 this means there could be as
many as 720 homeless people in our community. Maybe more.” - Tim Heenan 2012
Homelessness is a huge issue in Australia, but it's rarely talked about. Affordable housing and emergency housing is very hard to come by, even local support services are restricted in the emergency housing they provide.
The quote at the start of this blog post was said by a family friend who has been raising awareness of homelessness for a number of years now. In 2010 he slept out for a week, in a box in a local park. In 2011 he slept out for 2 weeks. In 2012 he slept out for a whole month. This year he's doing the same for the whole month of August.
The photo below is the box he'll be sleeping in during the month. Rain, hail or shine.
Since last year he's also been working to help Swags for Homeless. Homeless people often die of hypothermia, Swags for Homeless is an organisation that make fireproof backpack beds that are donated to people who are homeless providing them with some dignity and warmth at night.
I can't do what Tim is doing, but I will be posting and following his journey. I will also be donating some money from each sale I make during the month of August to Swags for Homeless.
Photo below: Swags for Homeless rally last year to urge the State Government to release money for helping the homeless.
Some facts about being homeless. Homelessness can be caused by poverty, unemployment and a critical shortage of affordable housing.
Escaping domestic and family violence is the most often cited reason
for seeking assistance given by women who present to homelessness
services in Australia.
80% of people who need accommodation and are turned away are families.
Homeless people aren't just people who sleep on the streets, they're also people who 'borrow' a friend's couch for the night and those who sleep in their cars. Suicide is 47% higher in the homeless. Over 110,000 Australians will be homeless tonight 30% are children.
Homeless people don't put themselves in the spotlight, people don't see them so no-one talks homelessness as a big issue.
Let's talk about it.