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What is the cause of becoming homeless?

A question one often asks is “What is the cause of homelessness? Why do people become homeless?” Well there isn’t a simple straight forward answer to any of these questions.

Homelessness is a problem that has recently come to light as a real social issue in the United Kingdom. Seeing a homeless person in major towns and cities in the UK has now become the ‘norm’ but it is still incredibly shocking that in the 21st Century, in a modern world country, we still have people living on our streets. Towards the end of last year, comedian, Russell Howard brought the issue to light in his show The Russell Howard Hour

Towards the end of every year in the autumn period, since 2010, every local authority in England is made to do a count by the Government Department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The count is an annual event and allows local authorities to see changes in the population of homeless people living on our streets.

To be counted as homeless you have to meet a certain criteria when the count takes place. The government set a direct definiton of what is classed as being a rough sleeper. They define a rough sleeper as:

“People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations, or “bashes” which are makeshift shelters, often comprised of cardboard boxes).” (Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government)

When local authorities are completing their counts they have to adhere to the goverment’s definition of rough sleeping, meaning that there are still some people that won’t meet the requirements and as such are left out of the count. This is because some people decide to sleep in very remote and discrete places (such as bushes and hedgerows) for their own peace of mind. It is important to remember that the figures submitted by undertaking an official count are only inclusive of rough sleepers and not the homeless community as a whole. Those living in temporary accomadation in B&Bs, hostels, sofa surfing and squatting aren’t counted.

Some of the statistics that can be pulled out of the 2016 count are that there were 4,134 people recorded to be rough sleeping in England with 509 (12%) of those people being female and a staggering 288 (7%) of those people being under the age of 25. The graphics below show some of the findings from the data.

(Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2010, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government).

 

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Today, 25th January 2018, the data for the 2017 count has been released by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Some of the statistics that can be pulled out of the 2017 count are that there were 4,751 people recorded to be rough sleeping in England, an increase of 617 (13%), with 653 (14%) of those people being female and 370 (8%) of those people being under the age of 25, including 3 people counted as under the age of 18.

Portsmouth saw an increase in it’s rough sleeper population from 37 in 2016 to 42 in 2017, an increase of 13.5% with an increase from 4 females in 2016 to 6 females in 2017, an increase of 33.3%. The number of rough sleepers under the age of 25 also rose from 0 in 2016 to 2 in 2017. No rough sleeper counted in Portsmouth was believed to be under the age of 18.

The graphics below show some of the findings from the data.

(Source: Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2010, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2016, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government; Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2017, for England. Dept for Communities and Local Government)

 

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So, what is the cause of homelessness? Why do people become homeless? There is no one single reason as to why somebody becomes homeless. It is normally a multitude of factors that play a role. Findings from unofficial research carried out by Helping Hands Portsmouth found that common reasons were family breakdown at a young age, and sometimes a step-parent being on the scene and not getting on with the person at a young age. PTSD and mental health issues were among some of the other reasons as well as addiction, prison and disability.

The BBC produced an online article about the stories of some homeless people that live in coastal towns and cities, just like Portsmouth. The link can be found here. BBC South Today also interviewed some of the regions homeless to give them a chance to tell their stories. The link can be found here.

One of our core values here at Helping Hands Portsmouth is that we treat every person we meet on the streets with respect, compassion and dignity. We understand that everyone’s story as to why they are living on the street is different.

We ask that you don’t tar everyone with the same brush. The people living  on our streets are human beings, just like you and I. Treat them with respect. Offering them a sandwich at lunchtime is so simple, yet you maybe the first person they’ve spoken to since lunchtime the day before.

All information used in this article has been sourced and details of sources have been given at the appropriate times. Data for the Rough Sleep Count in Portsmouth was obtained on 28th December 2017 by a Freedom of Information Act (2000) request to Portsmouth City Council. Helping Hands Portsmouth would like to thank Portsmouth City Council for their cooperation with the request.

2017 – What a blast!

Well, what can we say. 2017 has been a blast for Helping Hands Portsmouth. Thank you for all your support throughout the year that made it possible. We invite you to watch our short video about our 2017. I’m sure you will agree it has been amazing!

Finally, we hope you have had a good Christmas and wish you all the very best for a successful and healthy 2018!

 

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother:

HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share some of the things we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the third…..

…we often see a young lad who is autistic. Recently he arrived sobbing, shaking and beside himself. Following a misunderstanding, one of the stallholders had been very abrupt with him. His homeless friends sprung into action – comforted him, got him a sugary tea, calmed him down and diplomatically spoke to the other person, smoothing over the rift.

Small moments, easily missed but proving that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity.

*some names changed for safeguarding

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#MentalHealthWeek – Let’s Talk

As you may be aware, this week is Mental Health Awareness week. A national initiative to get people talking. So, we thought we would do a series of posts surrounding the homeless as they may not have chance to talk about it.

In 2014, a report from Homeless Link found that 80% of the homeless community had a mental health issue – 45% of which was diagnosed. According to a report from the ONS (2011) 26% of homeless people said the cause for being homeless was due to having a mental health issue.

Mental Health Word Cloud

As you can see from the word cloud, lots of factors can result in a mental health issue developing. Like many people, taking the first step towards help can be the toughest, even more so when you feel isolated. At Helping Hands Portsmouth, we often are asked by the homeless people of Portsmouth if we can and do signpost people to services and, if they wish, go along to appoints at those services with them too.

Our outreach events often provide the community, social atmosphere and inclusivity with the wider world. This week we are asking people to speak to a homeless person if they feel comfortable doing so – that “Hello – how are you?” could be the most social interaction they have had for the past 24 hours. A little really does go a long way. If a homeless person asks you a question, we ask that you simply reply to them politely, like you would to someone in the office or workplace.

#NoOneLeftBehind

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

#MentalHealthWeek

This week, 14 May – 20 May, is a week dedicated to nationally spreading awareness around mental health.

 

You may have seen recently the statistics showing the number people who live on our streets that suffer from some variation of mental health issues.

Living on the streets can sometimes be one of the most isolating times someone will ever experience. No one to turn to. No one to look up at. No one to have a pint with on a Friday. No support network.

We here at Helping Hands Portsmouth ensure that whoever comes along to our outreach sessions has a chat with our outreach team. Often a “hello, are you okay?” and a grunt reply is what we experience. But that simple question can often lead to someone asking for help and we signpost them and walk with them if they want us to. It does take time. We ensure no one is left behind.

Next time you walk down to the shop, down to KFC or walking home from work, we ask that maybe you speak to a homeless person. If they ask you a question, please be polite enough to reply. They are human at the end of the day.

#NoOneLeftBehind

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(illustration from Charlie Mackesy, Instagram user: charliemackesy)

Fundraiser Pub Quiz at Three Bar, Southsea

Three Bar in Southsea hosted a fundraiser pub quiz for Helping Hands Portsmouth

 

On Wednesday 9th May 2018, Three Bar in Southsea kindly hosted a fundraiser pub quiz for Helping Hands Portmsouth.

The event was very popular with tables being fully booked and the bar being packed for what proved to be a fun and quizzical night!

We raised £321 on the night through entry to the quiz as well as the raffle that was held on the night. There was a variety of prizes including, a bottle of wine and free tickets to Portsmouth’s Oktoberfest held in the Guildhall.

A huge thank you to Three Bar for hosting the quiz and a massive thank you to everyone that attended and made it the sucess it was!

 

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Whistler Fish and Chip Shop have a collection for Helping Hands Portsmouth

Whistler Fish and Chip Shop located on Hayling Island held a collection for Helping Hands Portsmouth as part of thier St. George’s Day celebrations

 

Back in April 2018, Whilster’s Fish and Chip Shop held a celebration of St George’s Day in 31317658_10215727161114670_2897248186122895360_nthe form of selling the british delicacy for £1 per portion. They requested that in return for the reduced price in Fish and Chips people donated to a selection of local causes.

They chose Helping Hands Portsmouth and asked customers to bring down material donations that the homeless men and women living on our streets would need and be able to use.

 

 

A huge thank you to Whistler’s and all thier customers for supporting Helping Hands Portsmouth. We were really grateful for the donations we received.

If you’re out and about on Hayling Island enjoying the summer weather over the next few months and fancy a bite to eat why not pop down to Whistler’s and show them your support!

 

 

Woodcot Primary School have a collection for Helping Hands Portsmouth

Year 6 pupils from Woodcot Primary School in Gosport organised a collection of items for the homeless men and women of Portsmouth.

At the start of April 2018, we received an email from the headteacher of Woodcot Primary School in Gosport informing us that a group of five Year 6 children had come up with a project to help the homeless, a cause they were passionate about helping.

The group of children created and delivered an assembly to the whole school about homelessness and what they had found through their own research.

Following on from their assembly that they delivered to the whole school the children arranged a collection of items that they thought the homeless men and women living on our streets would need during their time on the streets.

Items that the children had requested to be brought in for the appeal included sleeping bags, rucksacks, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, wet wipes and sanitary items. It is really touching, to the admin team and the volunteers of Helping Hands Portsmouth, to see so much thought and maturity go into such a project.

The children had decided to divide up their donations into various categories which included rucksacks and daypacks with items differing to suit the circumstance of the purpose of the pack. Rucksacks were packed for the long-term survival on the streets with the day packs containing a day to day essentials that we need in our lives.

From all of us here at Helping Hands Portsmouth, on behalf of the homeless men and women living on our streets, a huge heartfelt thank you for your donations raised through your appeal! Fantastic effort that will make a difference in someone’s life.

Charmed Life Festival chooses to partner with Helping Hands Portsmouth

Charmed Life Festival 2018 have chosen to partner up with Helping Hands Portsmouth for this years festival!

Charmed Life Festival is into it’s second year this year bringing tribute acts to Portsmouth’s Victoria Park, located right in the middle of the city! CL Logo

The day runs from 11:30am with acts kicking off the festival on the two stages at 12:00. The festival will be running through until 11:30pm.

Volunteers from helping Hands Portsmouth will be walking around the site with collection buckets throughout the day.

The money raised from the festival will ensure that we are able to continue our work thorughout the rest of the year continuing into the forseeable future.

Tickets are available from £20 each and can be purchased at the following website. Click here.

Here is a video of last year’s festival. This year is set to be bigger and better so why not come down and enjoy the acts that are across the two stages:

 

A huge thank you to the organisers of Charmed Life Festival who have chosen Helping Hands Portsmouth this year! More information about the festival, including line up and location can be found on the Charmed Life Festival website

 

Charmed Life

 

Helping Hands Portsmouth Are Having Their May Pub Quiz at Three Bar, Southsea

On the 9th May 2018, The Three Bar in Southsea has kindly offered to hold a fundraiser pub quiz with proceeds going to Helping Hands Portsmouth.

The quiz starts at 19:30 and entry is £4 per person which includes a curry. Please bring along your firends and family to what sets to be an entertaining evening.

 

The Three Bar is located at 103 Palmerston Road, Southsea, PO5 3PT

 

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He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: 29th April 2018

HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share some of the things we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the fifth…..

Simon has been homeless for years. Self-contained, clever, argumentative, grumpy – we love him! Andrew is young, autistic, withdrawn, very vulnerable.
It has taken us a lot of time and effort to gain the trust of each man. We’ve done it though and this is how we know that Simon quietly looks out for Andrew 24/7.

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Small moments, easily missed but proving that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity.

*both names changed.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother: 20th April 2018

HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY BROTHER

On the street it’s every man for himself, right?

Well, no. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Gruff kindness and quiet comradeship between the homeless men and women is something we often observe.

We thought we would share some of the things we’ve witnessed in a series of weekly posts. Here’s the fourth…

…when a young, pregnant woman came over dizzy and sick one night as she walked home, three street sleepers were on it. They carefully sat her down, wiped her forehead, got her water and fussed over her like three midwives. She got a telling off for wearing such high heels and advice about eating more low carb snacks. All men, all a bit intimidating to walk past normally. All fathers in another life…

Small moments, easily missed but proving that life can take literally everything from you – except your humanity.