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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.

  • 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)

  • 23 Jul 2018 update Frequently Asked Questions - UK

    UK Qurbani

      • Q: Is the meat Halal?

    Yes, the meat is approved by the Halaal Monitoring Committee (HMC)

      • Q: Which animal will be used for the Qurbani?

    Sheep/mutton weighing approx 17/18kg.

      • Q: When will the meat be delivered?

    Delivery will be made to the donor and beneficiary either on 3rd or 4th September 2017.

      • Q: Is the delivery charge included?

    Yes, delivery is included in the price of £150

      • Q: How is it packed and kept fresh?

    Delivery will be placed in a strong cool-box which prevents the meat from spoiling and protects it from any knocks. Independent tests have shown that the unique travel packs keep your order chilled during transit between 24 and 48 hours.

    • Q: Who are the recipients of the 1/3 of the meat given through UK Qurbani?

    Our clients are credible local partners and organisations who work with the most poorest and vulnerable people in the UK. Our beneficiaries are people from single parent families on a low income, the homeless, individuals or families who have  applied for Zakat due to financial hardships and people who have been referred to access local food banks.

      • Q: Will I receive two thirds of the meat?

    Yes, the donor will receive 2/3rds of the meat and 1/3rd will be send to a poor, needy or homeless beneficiary in the UK.

    • Q: What is the green colour mark on the meat?

    HMC use a green alcohol free meat marking ink which sometimes stains the meat, it is totally safe and doesn’t change the quality of the meat in anyway.

    Read more about the Programme

  • 23 Jul 2018 update Hajj Facts

    Hajj is no doubt an amazing spiritual journey that every Muslim aspires to embark on. There is an enormous amount of information associated with Hajj; most is critical to ensure that Hajj is performed not only in the best intentions but also in the correct manner. With that being said there is a ton of information related to Hajj including important Hajj facts that all Muslims should be aware of. Here we will outline a few very important details for our readers in order to get them further acquainted with this immensely important and complex ritual.

    • There are 5 pillars of Islam. Hajj is the 5th.
    • Performing Hajj is compulsory on every Muslim at least once in their life time.
    • Hajj occurs on the 8th to 12th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar
    • Muslims who have performed Hajj are called Hajjis. Some even add the title in front of their name to denote their accomplishment.
    • During Hajj, men are required to dress in Ehraam which is basically two pieces of white sheets they wrap themselves up with. Women are required to dress normal stay in Hijab.
    • Pilgrims stay at Mount Arafat then move to Muzdalfah and Mina where they perform the stoning ritual at the Jamaraat.
    • Mount Arafat is where Prophet Muhammad PBUH delivered his final sermon in which he preached on how men should treat women; that all Muslims are brothers and should stay united.
    • Jamaraat are three walls located in close vicinity to each other that donate the exact spot where the devil, in human form, tried to mislead Prophet Ibrahim against following Allah's instructions. Prophet Ibrahim rebuked him by throwing stones at him and he went away.
    • Millions of Muslims today follow in the same ritual and stone the 3 walls at the Jamaraat.
    • After the stoning ritual, Muslims perform Udhiya, also known as Qurbani in which they sacrifice a goat, sheep, cow or camel. The meat is distributed to the poor and the needy as well as neighbours and relatives. Many people donate their Qurbani to the poor.
    • Pilgrims perform the Tawaf Al-Wida after Hajj before heading home. Tawaf-al-Wida entails walking around the Holy Kabaa inside Masjid Al-Haram in circle 7 times.
    • Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed Umrah 4 times and Hajj once
    • Over 3 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year. This number is expected to grow even further this year.

    The above mentioned Hajj facts outline some of the most noteworthy and important aspects of the pilgrimage. May Allah SWT give all Muslims the opportunity to perform Hajj and all those who are embarking on Hajj this year have a safe stay and swift journey home.