Permacrisis is a word that has entered the dictionary this year, unsurprisingly. With the focus on cost of living, energy prices and the revolving doors at Westminster, it has been all too easy to forget that there is a grave crisis facing an ever increasing number of people… Homelessness.
I have to admit that homelessness is not easy for me to forget or overlook. Every day I see both old and new homeless faces on the way to and from work and on the weekly shop. Weary, emaciated visages fill both my windscreen and my mind. Eyes which are so close to giving up.
I cannot help but admire the persistence and resilience of the young and old men and women forcing smiles and politely asking passers-by to spare them change. Most, of course, simply pass by, not even acknowledging the existence of their fellow human beings in need. It’s hard to judge, though. We don’t know how close they themselves might be from crisis…
One of the biggest reasons I backed, and respected, Jeremy Corbyn, was that the first thing he swore to do if he achieved power would be to end homelessness. Surely, in the fifth richest country in the world, in which companies are making eye-watering profits, ensuring that every person has safe shelter should be a given. The fact that they don’t should be an immense source of shame for the entire country.
What is even more frightening is how many people are so close to losing it all. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, are only one accident or illness or job loss or price rise away from being unable to afford food and shelter.
Once people lose their homes, they lose their voice. Without a permanent address, a person is effectively ghosted by the system, unable to vote, apply for jobs or benefits, register for help… The nightmare is exponentially compounded.
For those of us who still have a voice, however small it may be, we must speak up for those who have lost theirs. Not only because we are so close to losing our own and finding ourselves in the same situation, but because, if we do not hope to lift our fellow human beings, if we cannot put ourselves in their shoes and feel their pain, what have we become?
Author & Artist