Friday, 17 August 2012

Dates in the Square - Wk4 - Homelessness

The fourth and last of the "Dates in the Square" events focussed on homelessness and included a reflection by Claire Grainger, from the Housing Support organisation HLG.

Claire was assisted by Sandra, one of HLG's service users, and they took turns to describe the various issues regarding homelessness.

Claire began by pointing out that there were homeless people in Nottingham right now. Some would be sleeping rough, some in cars, some in friends houses, some in hostels. And she asked the audience to consider how they would feel if they were suddenly homeless in Nottingham tonight - where would you go? How would you eat? How would your friends react?

Sandra now took over the microphone and outlined her experience, saying that before she became homeless she had thought that the homless were just dirty people living in the street. Sandra became homless when she lost her job and she was kicked out of the rented accomodation because they did not accept people who were on whose rent was paid by the DSS. Although Sandra was able to access emergency accomodation, the experience was, unsurprisingly, very traumatic and she became depressed.

Sandra felt that people (such as those in arreas or with mental health issues) needed to be helped before their situation became too severe.

Claire then continued the reflection, saying that Nottingham was now being hit very hard by cuts in public services and that this was resulting in some of the progress that has been made in recent years being lost, and that there were concerns that Nottingham was going back to the days when there were large numbers of rough sleepers because there was so little emergency accomodation provision.

Recognising that many people would be wondering what could be done to improve the situation, Claire made a number of suggestions:

1) Those who have been through homelessness need to be listened to.

2) Organisations need to ensure that they are making every penny count and are using best practice in their work.

3) Organisations also need to work together to achieve their aims.

4) People need to let decision makers know that homlessness is an issue that the people of Nottingham do care about.

Claire closed her (and Sandra's) presentation by thanking Himmah, saying that "Himmah is an organisation that, in a very practical way, show that they care for the homeless in Nottingham and they bring food and friendship to the homeless in Nottingham"

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