When you get into your nice warm bed tonight, after a hot dinner and bath, will you think of those less fortunate than you?
With so many homeless across the UK, perhaps they wouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind unless you actually pass them in the street. In Basildon, In Essex, one woman has decided to take matters into her own hands.
People are quick to judge homeless people. Unfortunately there is a lot of mentality that ‘they MUST be homeless by choice’ or that they are homeless because they are on drugs or have an alcohol addiction. Being homeless isn’t that black and white. In fact, people can become homeless for a number of reasons, from the break up of families, to reasons such as people not being able to get the right paperwork to get on the right track.
Basildon doesn’t have any more homeless than anywhere else in the world, but what it does have is one lady who they can turn to, and a group of lovely, helpful people willing to help them out.
When Sky took over the group ‘Homeless Help In Basildon And Surrounding Area’s’, it was done out of a willingness to help others and having seen her father and sister experience homelessness themselves. At it’s inception, 10 months ago, the group just consisted of Sky going round and feeding and helping the homeless she came across, despite being in poor health herself.
After telling a few people who were happy to lend a hand, a Facebook group was set up to help everyone willing to connect.
First off Sky went round and collected donations, but the kind people of Basildon donated so much, it got fairly busy, so now members drop off to Sky anything they have for the homeless of the area. Over Christmas, one of the homeless gentleman of Basildon, Dougie, shared his dream with Sky to stay in a hotel for a couple of nights from Christmas Eve and have a warm bath and watch some TV.
Not seeing anything as too much of a challenge, Sky encouraged people to give donations and gave him his Christmas wish. Knowing that stopping there will be a waste of everyone hard work, the group continue to steam ahead to make life better for the homeless of Basildon.
Every Sunday, the group hold a homeless meet in Basildon, for the towns homeless to come along, get some warm food and change their clothes. A rota is put in place for members to make food and packed lunches, and if someone arrives in wet clothes, Sky replaces them with the clothes she has ready, and also has sleeping bags if they are needed.
Debbie, the groups PR Manager says “Last week a guy arrived freezing with no gloves so we gave him some, he was so happy. He sleeps in a garage at the moment”. On another occasion a guy arrived with soaking wet socks, that Sky removed her own to give to him!
A few weeks ago, Debbie put it to Sky that they should speak to the local MP, Stephen Metcalfe MP for some help. After encouraging over 50 members to write letters to him, he agreed to meet them, along with Jodie, a moderator for the group. Not only did he help them in many ways, including finding a Dr that would treat the homeless, he is also now, a member of the group.
Going up to this level is a much needed step for the group if they wish to tackle the situation head on. A great example, is that of my neighbour who lives opposite. He has been on remand since May 2014, waiting for a court date. As he was housed by Family Mosaic, his house has stood empty for near on a year, while there are homeless crying out for somewhere to live.
Obviously this is just an example, and there is a lot of technicality and red tape to just plonking someone in an empty house, but hopefully these are all questions the group can get answers to.
To continue to raise money, Sky and Dougie hatched a plan for the members to raise some funds and awareness. On 21st February, a few of the brave members of the group will be taking part in a sponsored ‘sleep out’ and spending the night as a homeless person on the streets of Basildon.
If you wish to get involved, donate, help, or just keep up to date, please join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/490070057781538/?fref=ts
Also, you can turn up to offer a helping hand at the meets that are held every Sunday from 5pm to 6pm in the circular car park behind Basildon Train Station (adjacent to Trafford house).