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Thought for the Week - ‘Untidy’ homeless

A fellow citizen wrote recently to the Lynn News to comment on the street homeless in King’s Lynn.

The complaint essentially was how they made the town look so unsightly.

With the added suggestion that they should go to one of the ‘places’ for them. Sadly, these places were not listed!

I am a trustee one of such places, a local charity for the homeless.

As such I am more than aware of the issues that the letter inadvertently raises.

I am also a regular purchaser and reader of The Big Issue. I thoroughly recommend it.

Apart from supporting homeless people it is also a good read.

A recent article looked at the recent explosion in the numbers of people who are now without their own accommodation in the UK.

Since 2010, it states, there has been a 134 per cent Increase in homelessness in the UK.

Here in Lynn, we now have over 60 homeless – rough sleepers and sofa-surfers. Two years ago we counted just five!

Also an estimated 85% of rough sleepers have some form of mental health problems and our ‘untidy’ problem can be seem in a national context.

To equate human beings with some of the true visual eyesores in Lynn is a sad comment on our society if people should have to conform to a view of ‘niceness’.

But I know that folk in our town are more generous of spirit than that.

I have talked with and bought drinks for one such young man and whilst doing so, fellow citizens have given food and clothing.

But what is his future and the future of others sleeping rough?

Well, the answer is not to let them stay there. Not by moving them on but by reaching out.

No one solution fits all. It takes a team effort for helping vulnerable people off our streets and into meaningful accommodation and work.

A lot is being done by many agencies but access to support services is not always present, and is being increasingly stretched.

So rather that ‘tut’ and pass by engage with them.

Buy them a drink. Even talk to them.

Then the unsightly becomes something else, a person!

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