There's no “average” experience of homelessness. Every person has a different journey. For many people experiencing homelessness, the ultimate price to pay, and usually the last thing to be stripped away, can be their dignity.
In this week's blog, we're taking a look at the impact of homelessness on a person's dignity and how you can help us to make a change.
Lack of access to basic necessities puts a huge strain on someone’s dignity. If you read our international women’s day series, you’ll understand how extreme period poverty and hygiene issues those who have periods face during their time on the streets.
And this is just one example.
For basic survival, humans need food, water, air and shelter. People experiencing homelessness will very often have to sacrifice their dignity to get what they need and ultimately to survive. For example, many will have to turn to begging, or in some more extreme cases, sex work or even criminal activity.
Homelessness is not a stable existence, and it's easy to see how living life on the street on a daily basis can really take it's toll. For example, many people dealing with homelessness often rely on public gyms and leisure centres to fulfil basic hygiene needs. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the homeless community was impacted when many public leisure centres had to close down during lockdown. Lockdown was hard enough for those of us who have a place to call home, it was even worse for those living on the street.
Loss of purpose
It only takes one event for someone to find themselves experiencing homelessness. It can happen to anyone at any time. For many of the people our outreach team speak to, loss of employment or and subsequently their home is synonymous with a loss of purpose, status or respect from others. This can leave many people at risk of depression, and it's well documented that low self-esteem can be a contributing risk factor to wider mental health challenges such as depression.
At Simon on the Streets, our focus is not on short-term solutions. Our outreach team provide emotional support, as well as putting plans in place to really help people look to a better future. Treating each individual with respect is how we help them to take back control, and navigate their way out of homelessness with their dignity.
Lack of palliative care
Palliative care isn’t a luxury afforded to many people experiencing homelessness unfortunately. According to the ONS, 688 people died whilst experiencing homelessness in 2020. Registering with a doctor isn't easy without a fixed address, meaning that getting access to treatment is very often too late for people facing homelessness.
This is an element of homelessness that's often overlooked, or not even considered at all. But when the average life expectancy of someone experiencing homelessness is 45 for men and 43 for women, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
It’s clear to see there is a distinct lack of services available to ensure those facing homelessness don’t have to give up their dignity in order to survive.
That's why we're committed to providing practical and emotional support to those facing homelessness. Through thick and thin, we’re there to advocate for our clients and help them to access the resources in order to forge a better future for themselves, away from life on the streets and the struggles that come with it.
To find out more about getting involved in the work of Simon on the Streets, contact us now.