It's been 2 months since I got back from LiC wanders around Wales and England. On our adventures, we got to pass through cities like Birmingham, Brighton, and London and were confronted with the rising numbers of homeless people/rough sleepers out on the streets. Living outdoors for the past 2.5 months (combined with 2 months in Sweden back in 2017), I was reminded of the cozy comforts of home that I sometimes easily take for granted. I became more aware of the challenges of living out in the open, especially during the cold and rainy weeks when fall turns into winter. Of course, I chose this adventure myself, had equipment that made the experience a whole lot more comfortable, as well as a community of like-minded individuals with whom I could share the challenges. But still, we had to overcome the following obstacles:
❌ Not having anywhere to dry our gear 💦
(except for the occasional church⛪️ or public library)
❌Not finding a public source of drinking water nearby 🚱
(even in a wealthy place like the Cotswolds )
❌Not being able to wash our underwear👃🙊
(major take-away: being clean is important for one's well-being and you get acutely aware of how bad you smell while sitting on an overheated train )
❌Being woken up at 5am by an angry man 📣🏕
I'm sure the whole experience made me a lot more sensitive to the situation of homeless people in my community. Recently, I went through my stash of unused shampoos, scarves, and socks and made little packages to donate to a local centre that helps women on the streets (apparently, torches and nail clippers are a big hit). I'm also planning to donate my old sleeping bags, that might come in handy during the upcoming winter months.
Sometimes helping people on the street is as simple as not ignoring them, having a quick chat and asking them what they need .
Check out this recent article by The Guardian on what you can do about the homelessness crisis.