Yesterday was a horrendous day, meteorologically. Heavy rain, hail and strong winds which ended up flooding some streets and train stations. Not a day where you want to leave the house at all.
I took a trip down to the local grocery shops when the weather calmed down to get some more soy milk. On the cold, damp pavement under minimal shelter, outside the store was a homeless woman.
The moment I saw her I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her situation. I walked into the store thinking I would buy something extra (bread or a pastry) to give to her on the way out. Her sign indicated that she was sleeping rough, the whole thing melted my heart.
I know there is a lot of homelessness, it’s sad and horrible and I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it is through the cold winter months.
I usually give change if I have some, not thinking about where that money will go. A few years ago I would have said that I wouldn’t want them using it on drugs and alcohol and I still don’t but what use will it be in thinking the worst of them. Yes, most of those individuals have ended up on the street from gambling, drug and alcohol problems and broken down families. Perhaps giving them money might mean that we continue to feed the system, a cycle of homelessness but at the same time maybe that person will go buy some food, or find a place to stay, how do we know? who are we to judge? we can’t assume their past.
No one chooses to be homeless. Yes, a series of decisions and actions may have brought them into this situation but we all make mistakes. I know the majority will say ‘well I would have stopped gambling or taking drugs ages ago if I knew I would end up homeless, it’s obvious, they brought this upon themselves’. But again it is extremely easy to say something like that when you are not in the situation and you are privileged enough to come from a loving family, with stability and grow up in a good environment, with great friends and education. In saying that there are plenty of us that don’t have all those things and don’t end up on the street, but everyone is unique and different. Somewhere in between, homeless individuals lost their way, they didn’t receive the support, the love/attention or didn’t have someone to just listen.
We all have a story. We should all remind ourselves that homeless individuals are people, they have lives, they have feelings and they are finding someway to survive. If surviving to them means short term gratification such as smoking, who are we to judge. A moment of happiness when everything else has fallen apart.
These are my opinions on this topic. I know everyone has extremely different views, I know that there are bad people out there who have done bad things and are therefore homeless. I know you can’t fix someone but the best I can do is try to make a small change in that persons life, be it for a couple of seconds or minutes.
But to all those individuals sleeping rough in these winter months, I applaud you for your bravery and courage to keep on surviving. To wake up everyday and continue while bystanders can be rude and ignorant. You are all so resilient and I hope that one day you will get the support you need to pick yourselves back up again.