Helping the homeless – giving more than loose change
As part of our Community Involvement Programme, Pelican support those who are passionate about helping local community projects and charities close to their hearts.
Pelican’s procurement manager Simon Gurney commits his time to help his local homeless community. In this story Simon shares his experience about the sad aspects of homelessness and what steps we can all do to make a difference to those who are less fortunate.
“I am delighted that Pelican is supporting me with the Community Investment programme and I wanted to share my story with you. I gain deep satisfaction from supporting our local homeless folks, and feel very fortunate to be able to offer my time together with my catering and organisational skills, as well as provide Mental Health First Aid support.
I live in the beautiful spa town Leamington Spa, where the number of homeless people has dramatically increased over the past few years. Organisations including The Salvation Army, Helping Hands (HH) and LWS Night Shelter offer sanctuary, shelter, food, companionship and a safe place for people to sleep. Together they all provide valuable information, resources and volunteers who support those in need each day of the week.
For many years my wife and I have provided soup for HH on a Tuesday night but recently I have become much more involved with LWS at the weekends, where typically I cook with donated ingredients on a Friday or a Saturday night for 30 to 40 guests. The LWS shelter welcomed 309 guests through the year, and together they visited 4,376 times (almost always having a hot meal!) and 142 people enjoyed 1,214 nights of safe sleep.
Occasionally when volunteer resources are slim, I stay overnight to support late comers who need a safe place to sleep that night. I make sure they have something to eat and drink, and then we might play cards or board games. Mostly though, I love to simply chat and listen in those late and early hours.
Our guests at the shelter benefit from huge comfort and respite – albeit temporarily – to help their long days pass more easily. Here are two excerpts from the guest book.”
Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating
“Hard as we might think, for many of us it is impossible to imagine how homeless people manage to live their lives and get through a day and night. Picture yourself on you own, with no address, nowhere to go. What if you had a period, or flu, or needed the loo desperately? Almost everyone walks past you every day and barely a handful of people stop to chat. You live your life below the radar, with little human warmth or touch, let alone the obvious shelter and funds.
Homelessness can happen to anybody. There are many reasons including lack of affordable housing, poverty, unemployment, running away from abusive relationships, substance misuse, or simply a consequence of bad luck. According to the charity Crisis, people sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked, or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless. Homeless people are at least nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.”
“When I support people on the streets, after the initial chat, I’ll then crouch or sit down so I am on the same level as them. I ask if they’d like some hot or soft drinks or sandwiches, cakes and biscuits (carbs) and if they have any favourites which I can get for them. I also always have some spare new thick socks, gloves and hats in the car, especially during the winter.
There are lots of ways you can support homeless people and help end homelessness. Often, homeless people would like to chat and pass some time. It’s not all about giving money, and if they haven’t got a smile you can easily give them one of yours.”