Written by Eva
On average in the UK over 250,000 people are homeless, suffering from freezing temperatures and days of starvation. Rough sleepers don’t have it easy at any time of the year.
The issue of homelessness is affecting people worldwide, let alone in the local community and it is constantly sparking attention in the government and media. This winter in Retford, a homeless man passed away due to sub-zero temperatures. Most find this tragedy unbearable to believe, especially those that knew him. My point is: should society have let matters progress to this stage? Innocent people dying because others take no action in helping them. Join me as I investigate what teachers and pupils think of homelessness, through a series of short interviews and written reports below:
Interview with Mr Heery*:
“What is your overall view towards homeless people?”
Mr Heery: I think it is a great shame that in this country we seem to have done a lot to improve the problem and then over the last few years, it has seems to have come back again. So, one type of homelessness, of people sleeping rough seems to have come back after having almost disappeared. Given how much money we have in this country, given how many wealthy people there are in this country, I think it’s a great shame that anyone doesn’t have a roof over their heads, particularly when that is children or young people.
“Do you think schools should educate young people about the reasons for homelessness and the difficulties rough sleepers face?”
Mr Heery: “I am sure that’s right; whether that’s done as a separate thing in Citizenship I don’t know. But when you look at the reasons, often they are around mental health, for example. I think as a school we could talk more about mental health. Sometimes it is around inequalities and society, making sure that everyone gets a fair chance. That’s hopefully something that would come through Citizenship. So, I think we should definitely be talking about the reasons for homelessness and also the ways that we could do something about that.”
“One more question, how many rough sleepers do you think there are in the UK?”
Mr Heery: I have no idea, I’m sure it’s in the thousands, or even the many thousands. The only thing I would say is homelessness isn’t just about the rough sleepers but it’s also about people who, you know, are living in very difficult conditions, such as maybe on someone’s sofa. I couldn’t even begin to guess at the figure I am sure it is in the many thousands. Do you know?”
“It is 250,000”
Mr Heery: Wow. That’s outrageous.
“Thank you for your time sir.”
Interview with Bramcote student, Ella*:
“What do you think about the homeless?”
Ella: I feel really bad for those people because I am here in a house, comfortable and they are on the streets, probably starving.
“Do you think our government could do more to help rough sleepers and why?”
Ella: “I think the government could do a lot more, bearing in mind we have had a lot of snow this winter/spring and I know this will affect the money in the country. However I would rather people being sheltered, alive and warm then being cold, defenceless and dying.”
“Do you feel sorry for the homeless and why?”
Ella: “Yes. Obviously. Because they are just on the street all the time and it could be potentially dangerous on a Friday/ Saturday night, when people are drunk. Especially those people that can get angry can be a threat and possibly try to hurt them; that’s not okay.
“Would you ever start a conversation with a homeless person?”
Ella: I probably wouldn’t go straight up to them and start a conversation but I would go to a shop and buy them something useful like a blanket or a sandwich. I would never give them money, because you don’t know what they could do with that money. So yeah, I would probably buy them something practical- food, drink, anything.
“How many people do you think are homeless in the UK?”
Ella: “Too many to count. I mean, there are so many that are going unnoticed and you know, it’s just a huge amount. I honestly don’t know.”
“Do you want me to tell you?”
Ella: I am speechless. There are so many people that have a house, have money, have jobs and have a family. However, they are sitting in the freezing cold every night and that’s just awful.
You have been reading Eva interviewing Mr Heery, Executive Head Teacher and Ella, Bramcote student.
*Excerpts of the interviews, key information included.