27 March 2016

Why I'm Running For Shelter

With 27 days until the big event, I wanted to share with you why I chose to run for Shelter (www.shelter.org.uk).

Homelessness is huge issue in the UK which most of us either aren't aware of or think it doesn't effect us. I'm in an extremely fortunate position where I've always had somewhere to live and family to look after me but many of us aren't so lucky.

Local agencies report 7,581 people slept rough in London alone throughout 2014/15 - a 16 per cent rise on the previous year. And the issue is only growing. More than 50% of homeless people asking for help are aged under 25 and in Manchester sleeping rough has almost doubled since 2014. In the last year, there's been a 30% increase in the number of homeless sleeping in bins (the video is quite disturbing as you seen a man tipped upside down into a compactor). I could go on...

Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, did a documentary earlier this year on the 'Hidden and Homeless' living in the UK (BBC write-up here). I watched this instead of running on an injury rest day and it really moved me. Homelessness is more than just living on the street. I won't go into detail as I think everyone should watch it for themselves. Unfortunately, it's no longer on iPlayer but I recommend seeking it out online or buying it on the BBC Store. 

Over the last 5 months of my training, my awareness of homelessness has grown dramatically. There are many different definitions of homelessness and it seems absurd to be that you have to be legally defined as homeless before your Local Council can help you. Shelter argues that homelessness should include those who "live in unsuitable housing, don't have rights to stay where they are or are sleeping rough".

Those who experience homelessness are often amongst the most vulnerable people in our society, suffering from a combination of poor housing, unemployment, low income, bad health, poor skills, loneliness, isolation and relationship breakdown. 

I've heard the phrase "these people don't help themselves" a lot recently and it's not uncommon for people to avoid and ignore homeless people on the streets these days. But there are many more reasons for homelessness than those which you would naturally think of, such as: 
  • being evicted because of rent arrears caused by money problems 
  • the breakdown of relationships with partners, parents or family
  • having to leave because of domestic violence or abuse 
  • illegal eviction or harassment by a landlord 
  • a disaster such as a fire or flooding
I'm not a particularly political person but I do believe it is the government's duty to support those who are homeless. Having a home, a roof over your head, to me, is a basic human right. How can we be one of the richest countries in the world and still have so many basic problems at home?

Charities like Shelter need the support of the government. 

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through advice, support and legal services. They campaign to make sure that one day, no one will have to turn to them for help. Last year, they helped over 4 million people through their advice service. A key part of what they do is campaigning to make housing more affordable, renting fairer and homelessness a thing of the past. They want to tackle the root causes of the housing crisis so that everyone can have a safe, secure and affordable home.

If you haven't donated yet, hopefully this will persuade you to. 

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