Big Issue|Issue 286
In this period, and as a result of the various lockdown levels, many communities suffer from ongoing and worsening levels of hunger, unemployment, lack of income and economic downturn. They are also experiencing social distress due to strict restrictions relating to funerals, religious events and cessation of normal social interactions from family gatherings.
The lockdown has also turned the spotlight on the needs of our homeless community, from the growing number of individuals sleeping rough across our city to their holistic care relating to health, psychosocial, emotional and rehabilitative needs.
Our homeless community is far too often judged and maligned through the imaginary process of painting every individual with the same stroke of the proverbial paintbrush. This community is a heterogeneous group, each individual with a unique set of needs, demanding a tailored and nuanced offer of support that established shelters or nongovernment organisation (NGO) networks can provide.
From our privileged perspectives, we too easily blame homeless individuals for the situation that they find themselves in. A blame we attribute to poor choices that they may have made, whether as a result of alcohol, drug addiction, mental health, criminal backgrounds or personal trauma. Some of this might be true, but more often than not, this is part of a bigger picture. We are blind to the fact that these ‘causes’ can actually be considered as outcomes.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE
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