There has been an alarming increase in the number of homeless people in the United Kingdom. According to The Guardian, just last year alone, 112,070 people declared themselves as homeless. This represents a whopping 26% increase in the last four years, an alarming statistic by all means. The situation is dire in London as well, the capital of the UK, where the number of homeless people grew by 75% to reach 6437 individuals.
Many factors are to blame for this. Some are pointing the finger at the lack of affordable housing for people. It is a well-known fact that London is one of the most expensive places to live and afford a home. This is probably why people prefer to either just visit the city as tourists or live in surrounding suburbs and towns, and drive to London for reasons such as employment, events or social engagements. A £7 billion cut in housing deficit also didn’t help matters.
As if going from a home to being homeless is not stressful enough for an individual, being homeless and dealing with extreme weather conditions on your own leads to even further isolation, agony and mental health problems. According to a recent study, up to 70% of homeless people have been reported as having some form of mental health problem. They cite their existing homeless condition and being out cold on the street as the leading causes of developing mental illness. Two-thirds of the people polled reported having physical health problems such as lung complications and wound infections too. The lack of shelter and finances means they are less likely to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and medication. This hinders their recovery and they ultimately succumb themselves to their illness. The average life expectancy of a homeless person is just 47 years.
These are all alarming statistics to be mindful of. Moreover, this is not something that is happening halfway across the world. This is a situation that is developing right here on our doorsteps, in the United Kingdom. These people need to be looked after and provided for, despite the government programs in place to do just that.
Muslim Aid has always been mindful of getting involved in local charity ventures and events. We believe that building communities is one of the things an aid agency can do. Homeless people, as neglected and isolated as they are, still make up part of a neighbourhood and community. Something must be done to protect them, especially against the brutal cold weather currently in full swing. Last year, 30000 homeless people, including the elderly, lost their lives due to cold weather. They didn’t have proper clothing or shelter to protect themselves. Suffering from isolation, and depression, they did not seek out help either. It is our duty to come to their aid. The Warm Hearts campaign by Muslim Aid is a step in the right direction. The Rucksack Challenge is another innovative concept that encourages people to seek out homeless people and help them.
Get involved in our campaigns that affect your community. Take the Rucksack Challenge or participate in the Warm Hearts Campaign. Do your part for the betterment of your community today!