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Muslim Aid Blog

Facts about Homelessness


Here at Muslim Aid, we work hard to help humanity, no matter what people's individual circumstances. Helping to reduce the amount of homelessness in the UK is part of what we do, especially throughout the coldest months of the year.

Rough sleepers, living on the streets, homeless people; these are just some of the names given to a shocking percentage of the population who find themselves without a fixed place to call home. Many of us tend to associate homelessness with people who are merely sleeping on the streets, often seen with cardboard boxes and sleeping bags huddled in cold doorways, but the sad fact is that being homeless doesn’t always mean that you don’t have a roof over your head.

What Does Being Homeless Mean?

Somebody can be regarded as homeless if they do not have a legal right to occupy the place they are living in. With a large number of people sofa-surfing or squatting in vacant buildings, many homeless people technically do have a roof over their head, at least in the short-term.

However, with up to 62% of single homeless people remaining unreported in official figures, homelessness has now become a major humanitarian issue that requires urgent attention.

What Causes Homelessness in the UK?

With budget cuts to local authorities up and down the country and the ongoing housing crisis here in the UK, the amount of funding available to help the most vulnerable members of society has shrunk over the years. As a result, there are more people classed as homeless than there has ever been before.

For many of these people, their lives have been taken away from them in the blink of an eye. With so many people living in poverty despite being in work, the risk of becoming homeless is a reality for many should they lose their job or become too ill to work. Any one of us, from any walk of life, can become homeless as there are many reasons why people end up homeless – but with your donations, we can do our best to help those who need our help the most.

It Can Happen to Anyone

The loss of a job and a marriage or relationship breakdown are two of the biggest causes behind homelessness, especially as the cost of living rises while earnings simply aren’t matching up. Recent reports suggest that there are approximately 8 million people who are just one paycheck away from being made homeless.

Other reasons that can easily lead to homelessness include: addiction, mental and physical illness, spiralling debt or leaving an institution without adequate support in place.

Once homeless, it can be extremely difficult to return to an everyday normal routine, finding a job and a new place to call home, both on a practical level and on an emotional one, too.

Here are a few facts and figures to get you thinking:

1. There are around 400,000 hidden homeless individuals in the UK. These include people living in B&Bs, hostels, squatting and even those who are sofa-surfing with friends and relatives.

2. While the most common reason people give for being homeless is a relationship breakdown, other factors include physical health problems, mental health issues, alcohol and drug problems, bereavement, and bad experiences with care and the legal justice system.

3. Homelessness does not only enforce a feeling of isolation, but it can also increase a person’s chances of experiencing drug abuse, as well as physical and mental health problems.

4. A homeless person is likely to be a victim of theft 47 times more than the general public and 13 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime.

5. There are hundreds of charities around the UK that work with the homeless and help these vulnerable people by providing accommodation, clothing, housing advice, careers training and offering support towards other crucial services. Day centres providing meals, showers and medication also offer aid for rough sleepers, as well as raising awareness for the issues that are faced by so many.

It is estimated that around 2,400 people sleep rough on the streets on any given night, although without knowing the true number of homeless people out there, the real figure could be much worse than this. We should remember that homeless people are individuals just like us, who have simply found themselves in a difficult situation. With your help, they might just be able to escape the ceaseless cycle of homelessness.

The Hard Facts About Homelessness in the UK

Who are the hidden homeless? Despite the growing numbers of rough sleepers visible on the streets of our towns and cities, the truth is that there are just as many hidden homeless people living out of sight. These people live their lives precariously moving from one temporary abode to the next – hostels and B&Bs, taking advantage of sofas offered from friends and even squatting in disused buildings. Hidden homeless also refers to overcrowding, with whole families crammed into one bedroom in shared houses in the worst cases.

Make no mistake - these people are living life without a home to call their own, despite the roof that is often over their heads.

The Very Real Impact of Being Homeless

There are varying degrees of impact due to being made homeless. For some people, it can lead to the exacerbation of an existing condition such as depression or other mental health issues, but it can also lead to a devastating decline in mental and physical health. Many homeless people suffer from a lack of self-esteem as passers-by choose to ignore those sitting on the street and the people who have no choice but to rely on others to get by in life.

Further to this, the very nature of being homeless – being crushingly cold and wet in the worst of the winter weather - can often cause an increase in drug and alcohol misuse leading to dependency. With this also comes a higher chance of being involved in crime and subsequently serving time for crimes committed.

One of the biggest impacts of being homeless is the barriers that exist which prevent so many from returning to an everyday lifestyle. A lack of a permanent address means a struggle to get work, and without regular access to showers and washing machines, getting interviews is made more difficult, too.

Even little things such as having a haircut or a beard trim are taken for granted; these simple activities make us feel more confident and more human. Without them, it can be easy to feel forgotten about and this only intensifies the isolation and low self-esteem that so many rough sleepers experience.

What’s more, life on the streets can be very dangerous. A homeless person living on the streets is regularly exposed to unnecessary abuse and violence, for no reason other than the situation that they find themselves in.

How You Can Help Us Tackle Homelessness

Here at Muslim Aid, we are continuing our mission to help humanity through our Global Winter Appeal.

Help us share love and support with some of the most vulnerable members of society. This campaign reaches out to the homeless community by providing Warm Winter Essentials packs which include life-saving blankets and jackets. We will also be helping to fund soup kitchens to help those sleeping rough enjoy a warm meal on the coldest of days. Access to these essentials during the harsh winter weather could be the difference between life and death, even here in the UK.

For more information on our Global Winter Campaign, or to find out how you can get involved and volunteer please click here.

  • 7 Feb 2019 update Charity in Islam

    As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, charity plays a huge part in everyday life for Muslims around the world. Helping those less fortunate than ourselves by giving up free time is one way, but donating Zakat and ongoing charity (also known as Sadaqah Jariyah) are just some of the many ways that Islamic teachings prioritise charity in the wider world. 

    Zakat is an obligatory form of charity, based on an individual’s personal wealth, and must be donated to help those who are in need of a helping hand. Zakat is calculated based on what we have that is over and above our own basic needs and ensures that nobody goes without. By definition, Zakat means to purify your wealth in this world by giving to those less fortunate. 

    By contrast, Sadaqah Jariyah is a form of ongoing voluntary charity that helps recipients build a better future as well as providing them with relief in the present. Instead of simply donating food and water, to give Sadaqah Jariyah provides recipients with the opportunity to create an income for their families on a much longer-term basis. This ongoing charity rewards both donor and recipient not just in this world but also in the Hereafter.

    The Importance of Zakat

    Zakat is an obligation that almost all Muslims must meet, providing they meet specific requirements. Zakat is compulsory as instructed by the Holy Qur’an, and all able Muslim’s undertake this to deepen their connection with Allah (S.W.T) and betterment of themselves. 

    Charity giving is so important in Islam because there are so many people around the world that are without basic human needs. People are without food, clean water, shelter, clothing and education everywhere we look, whether nearby in our towns and cities or further afield in war-torn countries. By giving to those in need, a good deed is done for both parties, as the donor will also gain contentment from being able to help. 

    The Zakat Facts 

    To qualify for Zakat, one should be of good health both physically and mentally and meet the Nisab threshold. This is based on cash, gold, silver and other assets. Those eligible typically donate 2.5% of their profitable wealth as Zakat.

    Sadaqah Jariyah

    Sadaqah Jariyah is a voluntary form of ongoing charity that covers all aspects of giving. Whether this is something as small as giving advice or helping someone better themselves for the future, this kind of charity rewards all parties involved in the current day and long after their life has ended. Investing in the Hereafter as much as the things we have now is of great importance to all Muslims.

    How Sadaqah Can Work for You

    There are so many different ways to incorporate ceaseless charity in your life, and the rewards of which are immeasurable. Whether you choose to donate your time and energy or prefer to give monetary contributions towards a worthy cause, it could not be easier to get involved. 

    Education and Skills Development

    Teaching the importance of Islam to others and spreading the knowledge you have is a great way to educate those around you. Engaging in discussion, sharing facts and knowledge with the purpose of doing good and spreading the word of Islam, and you shall reap the rewards every single time this knowledge is passed on. 

    Donating Knowledge

    Similar to the above, donating religious materials (like the Holy Qur’an or books of Dua), brings huge benefits to both donor and recipient. In addition, any religious items such as prayer mats, hijabs etc. are widely accepted as a form of Sadaqah and the rewards for this are tenfold. Each and every time an item you donate is used; you too will receive reward and benefits. 

    Child Sponsorship

    There are far too many children in the world who, along with being deprived of their basic human needs, are being denied an education, too. Without education, they will struggle to better themselves and create a future that they deserve. 

    By sponsoring a child, you are contributing to not just their education, but their emotional development and tapping into their creativity, inspiring them to want more from this world. By sponsoring a child, you are helping them develop skills that can change their families lives forever, as well as their surrounding communities. 

    Help in the Community

    One of the greatest ways to give charity is to get involved in the construction of a Mosque or other significant building, such as a school or hospital. As with any other form of Sadaqah, you will receive just as much benefit from your generosity and the potential for reward is immense. Every prayer recited, every child learning, every sick or injured person treated is rewarded. 

    Giving Life Essentials

    Although food and water are often taken for granted, for many people around the world, these life essentials are in short supply. Not only do they provide sustenance and sanitation, but they can completely transform the lives of those in need. 

    Donating food and clean water is just one way to help, but donating to a cause that gives these communities a means of accessing clean water themselves and nurturing their crops is one of the greatest ways to help ceaselessly. This ongoing charity is hugely beneficial.

    Ongoing Charity

    Giving to charity is a way of restoring balance to the world, ensuring all communities are afforded the same rights and as instructed by the Holy Qur’an. Moreover, it is doing so discreetly and for the right reasons. Giving to purely receive praise will not be rewarded as this is not a selfless charitable act, but giving to help others and seeking fulfilment from their happiness along with the happiness of Allah (SWT) will only bring great reward in return. 

    By integrating ongoing charity into our everyday lives, it will soon become the norm. By adopting this way of thinking and accepting Sadaqah Jariyah as a way of life, Allah (SWT) will ensure that our good deeds are rewarded not just today, but in the Hereafter, too. 

    Charity giving is so rewarding, so why not get involved? Take a look at our ongoing projects such as Child Sponsorship and see the difference you can make.

  • 2 Jan 2019 update Spread the Warmth this Winter

    The winter season can be a joyous occasion for many, but sadly, this isn't the case for everyone. However, this year you can be the reason behind the happiness and smiles of all those disadvantaged children and adults around the world, simply by giving a little this winter. 

    Unfortunately, there are millions of adults, children and orphans in need; right on our very own doorstep and beyond – around the world. All of whom could benefit from a coat, an extra blanket, a hot meal, shelter or medication to cure their ill health during the cold months. 

    Helping the Homeless 

    Your donations will not only help through the winter months but all year round, too. The disadvantaged living in underdeveloped countries can gain relief from poverty, attain advancement in education, improvement of their environment and surroundings, improvement in health and even the saving of human lives. These are just a few of the ways your donations can benefit the neediest. 

    With charity forming one of the Five Pillars of Islam, not only are you benefiting others, but you are also benefiting yourself, in knowing that you have helped someone in desperate need.   

    Feel Happy 

    Giving can make you feel happy as it activates the regions in your brain associated with pleasure and social connection. It can also be good for your health and promote cooperation and social connection. Giving evokes gratitude and it is contagious as when you give, you are allowing others to see the greater reward of the art of giving. It truly is good for the soul! 

    Be Part of Our Vision 

    Here at Muslim Aid, we can see the benefit and reward that your generosity brings to the lives of others, first-hand. Our vision for a better world, coupled with the generous giving of others, has enabled us to implement projects across the world, with our focus being on health, water, education, capacity building and livelihood. 

    Your donation can help build better communities, stronger social connections and your actions may even kick-start a feeling of generosity in your community. Imagine all of that being down to you? As well as making the world a better place for others, you could be the one benefiting from a huge dose of happiness. 

    If you would like to be a part of our vision and our mission, then donate proudly today to our Warm Hearts Winter Campaign. Without your donations and generosity, Muslim Aid could not continue to help those in need. So, thank you and we look forward to helping the homeless with you and giving a little back this winter.

    Spread the Warmth this Winter
    • Spread the Warmth this Winter
  • 6 Sep 2018 update What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?

    One year on from the Rohingya crisis, Kawsar Zaman visits Myanmar to witness life for the Rohingya children left behind. 

    This Saturday 25 August marks 1 year on from the start of the mass exodus of the Rohingya people who fled violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, across the border to Bangladesh. The refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now home to more than 900,000 people, have been constantly in the international news. However, there are still half a million Rohingya people remaining in camp-like situations in Kachin, Kayan, Shan and Rakhine states. So, what is life like for the Rohingya left behind? 

    Kawsar Zaman, a lawyer in the City of London and a Trustee for the charity Muslim Aid, has just returned from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, Myanmar. Kawsar grew up in a council home, in the East End of London. As the youngest of seven siblings, he was the first in his family to go to university, ending up graduating from LSE, Oxford and Harvard Law School. Following his recent visit, Kawsar gives us an insight into life for Rohingya children still inside Myanmar.

    I have just returned from Myanmar on a visit to camps which are home to displaced Rohingya people in Rakhine State, Myanmar – a people described by the United Nations as “most persecuted minority in the world”. Since the outbreak of communal violence in 2012, over a million of the Rohingya community have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh with a 200,000 remaining in Rakhine State; confined to makeshift camps they have called home for six years.

    It was my first visit to the heart of a crisis and I walked along improvised streets beaten by the monsoon rain and lined with tents. For me, the most harrowing experience of all was the sight of children walking bare feet, without any clothes, looking for something to do. And yet, these are children who should be at school. This conflict was not the making or the result of their doing but they now suffer the fate of no access to education and in turn, the prospect of a life in a vicious circle of poverty. 

    I met Abdullah in a camp we visited. He was only 10 years old; but looked much older, perhaps brought on by the stresses and strain of living in the camp. His father had passed away and he was left alone with his younger sibling to support his mother. He had no education and was not in school. However, Abdullah told me he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.  

    I grew up in disadvantage – in a council home, in the East End of London. As the youngest of seven siblings, I was the first in my family to go to university. I ended up graduating from LSE, Oxford and Harvard Law School. Today, as a lawyer practicing in the City of London, as a governor at a secondary state comprehensive school in Bethnal Green and a trustee of Toynbee Hall, I know the power of schooling to transform lives. Education is the greatest liberating force of our generation.  

    According to data published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 263 million children and youth worldwide are missing out on the chance to go to school, with conflict being a major barrier to education.  Globally, 35% of all out-of-school children of primary age (22 million), 25% of all out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary age (15 million), and 18% of all out-of-school youth of upper secondary age live in conflict-affected areas (26 million).

    I became a trustee of Muslim Aid UK nine months ago. At 28, I believe I am the youngest trustee of any major British INGO. I live a fairly comfortable life as a lawyer so it was an opportunity I felt I had to take up -  to give back to others and share my own experiences having grown up in disadvantage. The power and opportunity to be part of a team operating in 30 countries across the world is incredible - but most importantly for me, driven by a strong sense of faith based giving, I’m proud to be part of Muslim Aid UK which supports all peoples irrespective of ones’ race, religion, colour, or creed.  

    Muslim Aid is one of only a handful of international aid agencies operating on the ground in Myanmar. It has built a hospital, provided shelter to 720 people, trained people in livelihood skills from helping them set up their own businesses – including masonry and handicraft – with a particular focus on helping vulnerable women. 

    A key focus for Muslim Aid Myanmar is on education with a vision to improve access and equality for both girls and boys in 300 learning centres and in seven temporary learning schools they have constructed, benefiting 3,250 children. Prior to these projects, most children were completely illiterate. Now many of them have school uniform, made by girls trained to sew at a Muslim Aid project, and access to toilets, showers and water when they go to school.   

    As I reflect on my visit, I cannot help but struggle with the thought of how our lives are such lotteries. Where we are born will dictate our lives and our life chances – irrespective of how hardworking or intelligent we may be. Born as a Rohingya child in Rakhine State, Myanmar in the centre of a conflict there is little prospect of you leaving a refugee camp let alone go to school. Born in London – and, you have the prospect of a good education and the opportunities to thrive at will. Globally, we have a duty to do more to eradicate child poverty and give every child the chance to go to school; for education is the greatest liberating force of our generation. It is quite frankly, the very least we can do.

    What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?
    • What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?
  • 31 Jul 2018 update The Importance of Qurbani

    As a parent, it is a lifelong duty to ensure your family is resilient and united. The leadership role that you play is important to teach and help children understand significant values of life.

    Qurbani is a very important time to educate your children about in order to raise their awareness of the act of giving. Sacrificing livestock has substantial meaning in Islam as the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim is what marks the very reason we sacrifice during Qurbani.

    • muslim-qurbani
    • The Importance of Qurbani
  • 23 Jul 2018 update Important Hajj Dates 2018

    If you are embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage this year, it is likely you already have all your travel documents in order and know when you will be arriving in Mecca. However, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a list of important dates in order to give an insight into how the Hajj pilgrimage generally plays out over the months.

    For some people the Hajj pilgrimage starts months before it ‘technically' does. Since around 3 million pilgrims undertake this pilgrimage every year, there is a conscious need to moderate the flow of Haji's in and out of the country. For that the country adapts a ‘first come, first serve' principle. The first batch to arrive is also the first one to leave after Eid ul Adha. With that in mind, below is a dated outline of how Hajj will unfold this year. We'd like to mention that these dates have been provided by the Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

    9th Dhul-Hijjah 1436 (approximately Sunday, August 19th 2018)