The other day I was walking up to the station to head home when I noticed a homeless man sitting outside the entrance. He was on one side of the entrance and on the other was a stack of the Evening Standard. One of the front pages was facing outwards and on the front I could see a big picture of Kim Kardashian.
The story on the front page told of how Kim had been mugged and had millions of pounds in jewellery stolen from her. This story had dominated the news channels from first thing that morning and was now making it on to front pages in the evening.
I was crushed. On the right was a man who had so little and on the left a woman who has so much but was still making headlines for what comparatively little she’d lost. How could we be so absorbed by the plight of a woman with so much whilst a man with so little was sitting right next to her picture and barely received a glance, never mind a front page?
The reality is that homelessness is an increasingly pressing issue. Government statistics show that, by 2015, the number of rough sleepers in England had more than doubled since 2010.
I’M GOING TO BE TAKING UP THE SLEEPOUT CHALLENGE BECAUSE I WANT TO MAKE A STATEMENT ABOUT WHO WE VALUE
And yet so many of us, myself included, walk past homeless people every day and turn a blind eye. For whatever reason that may be, we choose to ignore these people. And these are just the ones that we can see.
Church Urban Fund’s newly released Homelessness Briefing outlines the reality of homelessness; that homelessness is much more than just sleeping rough. In fact, homelessness extends to anyone living in a situation of violence, in poor or overcrowded conditions, or in a place where they have no rights to stay. In the first quarter of 2016 alone there were as many as 15,000 households that were accepted as statutorily homeless—that’s a 9% increase on the first quarter of 2015.
This increasing demand is why I and everyone at Church Urban Fund are asking people across the country to stand up and take the Advent Sleepout Challenge.
I felt very uncomfortable seeing so obviously how much our society values people like Kim Kardashian more than the man on the street outside the station. I’m going to be taking up the Sleepout Challenge because I want to make a statement about who we value and to take a stand against this growing crisis; it’s time to open our eyes to the problem and open our hands to the people suffering from it.
If you want to make a similar statement then sign up to take the Advent Sleepout Challenge today.
If you want to know a little bit more about how Church Urban Fund is tackling homelessness then download the Homelessness Briefing and find out.