Can you imagine becoming homeless.? What would it feel like to be homeless? What might lead you to being homeless?
Most of us have not been near enough to it to ever have got that shiver of fear and reality hit us about how easy it would be to find ourselves there. One more unfortunate turn of events. A redundancy; a hike in mortgage rates; a divorce; a long period of ill health. For many of us, whilst those things happening may have been tragic (or in hindsight, beneficial) realities; most would not have experience them tipping them into homelessness.
Some of us would have a bit of ‘water under our keel’, some savings perhaps, or the option to downsize. Even that would wrench at our hearts; the need to sell possessions or move home. In a tighter spot, most of us would have a family member or friend who would help us out, give us a room, loan us a few quid.
What if you didn’t have those things?
For one week a couple of years ago, I didn’t have access to any cash or credit. I had less than a fiver in my pocket and I had to mentally add up the basics I was buying and worry that I wouldn’t be able to pay at the till. I had to put the milk back because I didn’t have enough.
That was one week. I had to really think about the pennies. It sent a shiver down my spine. The realisation of how fortunate I am and how stressful it must be to constantly be in that state of high alert.
It must be mentally exhausting.
When you have no credit and are already living hand to mouth, you are already at a disadvantage. Not only is constantly thinking about what to buy and pay for (or not) tiring and exhausting; your choices become limited. Many of us wouldn’t think twice about grabbing a packet of biscuits or a bar of chocolate. If I fancy a coffee in a cafe, I’ll have one. Some people don’t have that luxury. Whilst most of us don’t even consider it a luxury.
Additionally, shopping is more expensive per item. If you can’t afford to shop around or grab a 3 for 2 deal; or get to a town with a cheap supermarket, then you will be shopping at the corner store. For many of us it’s an added convenience that is worth the extra pennies on the items. For some it’s a no choice option to pay more.
Let’s take a moment to put ourselves in different shoes:
Imagine having to account for every single penny every single day and having to choose one basic need over another.
What about being frightened to be in your own home but having nowhere else to go
Or losing your job and months passing despite your best efforts, and the red bills and rent/mortgage arrears start piling up.
What if you need mental health care and can’t access it and you are watching your world fall apart?
Or you suddenly find yourself as a single mum or dad through no fault of your own?
Maybe you’ve been displaced from a war zone.
What if you didn’t have the education, language, confidence or knowledge to advocate for yourself, or articulate your needs?
Imagine not knowing where your next meal will come from.
Image not having a choice of what to eat or when you might get to eat it
I could go on and on, there are so many scenarios.
Now imagine if more than one of these or a number of other negative factors befell you. It’s hard to put yourself there, isn’t it? Thank your lucky stars. Homelessness is not a choice. It’s a series of misfortune. Be that as a result of where you are born or who you are born to; or things that befall you along the way.
No-one chooses to be homeless. Show some compassion. Take a moment. Think about your fortune and the choices that allows you to make. How easy it is to take your life for granted. How lucky are you?!
How can you make even the smallest of differences to even one person?
Here’s one of many support organisations FareShare Cost of Living Crisis Appeal – FareShare