I have been volunteering for just over a year at Simon On The Streets and during this time my views and attitudes towards homelessness have radically changed. The compassion that the team have consistently showed towards those facing incredibly difficult challenges has inspired me to stay and offer my help where possible.
The organisation is run by a small team and capacity is stretched as demand for the service increases. This means I have been involved in a wide variety of activities ranging from social media postings, the evening soup kitchen and outreach sessions. Gaining experience in different areas of the charity has broadened my perspective further.
In order to gain a better understanding of the values and purpose of the charity I was asked to go on an outreach session with one of the support workers visiting clients around the Leeds area. We met a young man in the city centre, who revealed he had been a victim of human trafficking and had nowhere to stay. Fortunately we were able to take this man to housing options and work with him to get temporary housing. However, listening to the problems of some of the most neglected and vulnerable members of our society is not an easy task, it takes genuine consideration and empathy.
Although we were able to arrange for provisional housing for this man, sadly the reality is that for many others this is not the case. Support workers have to celebrate little wins like this, as long-term rehabilitation is rare and extremely difficult. The roots of the homelessness are deep, stemming from a multitude of issues, ranging from entrenched childhood trauma to mental illness. It is difficult to place the onus on one event, person or the government. It is however clear that current legislation and regulations must be revised in order to reduce homelessness. A set of improved processes must be implemented to stop people falling through the gaps in society if we are to eradicate homelessness.
For the meantime however Simon on the Streets continues to deliver emotional support, walking hand-in-hand with clients through their crisis, until the client is ready to make a positive change to their life.