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C7 Homelessness

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Description

Aim: To increase understanding of homelessness and the issues that surround it. Taken from the BB Seniors Challenge Plus Pro Pack, Community Project C-7

Resources

Taster 1
• “Being Homeless” template
• “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Scenario Cards” template
• Pens

Taster 2
• Read All About It” template
• Pens
• Computer

Taster 3
as required

Christian Faith
Bibles

Project
• Warm clothes
• Sleeping bag
• Shelter
• Food
• Hot drink

Instructions

Taster 1 - How Big A Problem ?

Aim: To inform that homelessness is about far more than rough sleeping.

Instructions:
How many young people do you think are homeless in the UK? It is estimated that between 200000 and 300000 people under the age of 25 are homeless in the UK at some point each year. Homelessness is a social issue that inspires strong — and often misinformed — opinions in people.

Read what the Barnardos’ website says about homelessness:

“One of the most basic human rights is for somewhere safe and stable to live and that is particularly important for families and for young people. Yet homelessness continues to be one of the worst social problems in Britain today. There are between 200,000 and 300.000 young homeless people in the UK and over 17,000 homeless families in London alone. who are forced to live in bed and breakfasts or hostels denying them the security, stability and privacy that they need. Suitable accommodation is vital to a stable life that includes education, employment and healthy relationships. Young people are more vulnerable to poor health, involvement in crime and substance misuse, sexual exploitation, unemployment and dependency on benefits when they don’t have a safe place to live. Homeless families find themselves living transitory and uncertain lives. They never know when they will have to move and basic essentials like a school place or doctor become major problems. Temporary accommodation offers children no stimulation or room to play. This can lead to depression or aggressive behaviour.

The facts:
• A third of children living in temporary accommodation have no school to go to.
• As many as 60 per cent of people sleeping rough have mental health problems.
• Homeless children are ten times more likely to die in a fire than their peers.”

Think about:

• What counts as being homeless?

The Barnardos’ websites says...

“Homelessness means not having a home. Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless. This is because you may not have any rights to stay where you live or your home might be unsuitable for you.’

• What do you think this means?

Homelessness can cover a wide range of circumstances. You don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be classed as homeless. You might also be legally homeless if you are:

• Temporarily staying with friends or family.
• Staying in a hostel or bed & breakfast.
• Living in very overcrowded conditions.
• At risk of violence or abuse in your home.
• living in poor conditions that affect your health.
• living somewhere that you have no legal right to stay in, e.g. a squat.
• Sleeping on a sofa.
• Living somewhere that you can’t afford to pay for without depriving yourself of basic essentials.
• Forced to live apart from your family or someone you would normally live with because your accommodation isn’t suitable.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Ask for 6 volunteers and ask them to stand in a line facing the front. Give each volunteers a scenario card, who they must identify with for the rest of the game. Get each volunteer to share who there character is. Read out the following list of questions. II they think their character could answer ‘yes” they should take one step forward. If there answer is “no” they should take two steps back:

• Do you feel safe in your accommodation tonight?
• Do you feel secure with your housing for the next three months?
• Do you think things will be sorted out in a year or so?
• Do you feel your accommodation meets your needs?
• Do you think anyone will lend you money if you needed it?
• Do you think you will be able to find somewhere else to go?
• Do you have people you feel you can turn to?
• Do you feel that you are fine in other areas of your life?
• Do you think any agencies, charities or services will help you?
• Can you see things getting better soon?

Get each volunteer to remind the group who they were and ask them:
• Did they sympathise with their character?
• Would they have moved differently if they were one of the other characters?

Being Homeless
Complete the Being Homeless” template and think about:

• What kinds of things would be difficult or impossible if you were homeless? e.g. keeping clean, being safe, access to medical care, etc.
• Why is homelessness a bigger problem than just rough sleeping?
• What are the consequences and impact of being homeless?

“Homelessness means loss, loss, loss ... It is not just the loss of a home, maybe of a partner or of family life, of supportive friends or of a known community. It involves the loss of confidence and self esteem. The loss of opportunities. (Quote from a Health Worker’)

Preparation:
Research this topic thoroughly to get a full understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness. There is plenty of information available.

Tips / Advice:
This material was adapted from Shelter’s ‘Secondary Classroom Kit”.
• Visit www.shelter.org.uk/shelterguides to download free booklets on a range of housing issues.
• Know Your Rights is a website containing housing advice specifically for young people aged 16-25. Go to www.shelter.org.uk/knowyourrights where you’ll find information and advice.
• The Housing Game is a fun interactive way to prepare young people for leaving home available from www.shelter.org.uk.
• Have a look at www.bamardos.org.uk and wwi.oasistwst.org.
• If you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless, you should get advice as early as you can. An adviser might be able to help you find a way to stay in your home, find a new home more quickly or get help from your local council. You can get advice from a housing aid centre, Shelter’s free national helpline (www.shelter.org.uk), a citizens advice bureau, your local council or a local advice agency.

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Make sure that the group keep references to immigration moderate and objective.
• Take note of whether anyone could be suffering homelessness and bad housing.
• Keep the discussion at a theoretical level

Taster 2 - How Does It Get To This ?

Aim: To see how people become homeless and challenge our understanding of the issue.

Instructions:
Bamardos tell the story of a young person called Gary that explains the ease with which a young man can slip into homelessness and the difficulties he faces escaping the downward spiral:

“I was 15 when Iran way from home. I couldn’t get on with my stepfather and he didn’t like me. I just wanted to get out of all the arguments and hassle. I had enough money to travel from Scotland.

to London. I knew one person there — a cousin of my mother’s and I had learned the address and telephone number off by heart. I never found her and spent my first night just wandering the streets.

During the day I tried to find a job. I must have gone into fifty shops in two days asking if they had any vacancies. A lot of them gave me an application form to fill in asking for my name and address and age. That was the problem — no address, no job. I soon learned to lie about my age and date of birth. I also found out from somebody I met on the street that I couldn’t get any money from welfare and stuff like that.

I got more and more depressed until my money finally ran out and there was no choice I would have to beg. I found a place under the arches with some other rough sleepers who seemed OK. Most of them got drunk on the money they’d begged so that they could go to sleep at night. You wait till the winter they said.

Well I learned how to beg and how to pretend I was a lot older than I was. Sometimes I had a quick wash in the public toilets, but they boot you out if they see you trying to do more than wash your filthy hands.

I got more and more depressed and was constantly hungry and frightened. One night I couldn’t resist it and got drunk on cheap cider under the archway. That was the start of it all really going down hill. I drank more because I was so depressed and the more I drank the more depressed I got until it all just rolled into one long nightmare. It went on like this for months.

But I was lucky. I met someone selling the Big Issue and he helped me to get involved. Once you’re involved in something again, you can start to do other things like find somewhere to live or apply for a job. I seem to have a bit of gift for selling, it’s hard work pushing the Big Issue everyday, but I get enough to buy food and the occasional night in a hostel. I’ve just met a girl who works for the Big Issue and she has offered me the use of her address so I can look for work, or claim benefits if I have to. Who knows, I might even have my own address soon.”

• What are the causes of homelessness?

Homelessness is the result of a range of circumstances, almost always related to poverty. The main cause of homelessness is the lack of safe accommodation that people can afford. Privately rented accommodation is often of poor quality, expensive and difficult to find. It is likely to be particularly unsuitable for families with children. In London, three quarters of the homeless are families, and yet just half of the accommodation has two or more bedrooms.

Other reasons for homelessness include:
— Being evicted by your landlord
— Family and friends being no longer prepared to offer accommodation
— Losing your job
— Health problems
— Relationship problems
— A disaster such as fire or flooring
— Debt
— Drug and alcohol misuse
— Lack of qualifications
— Poor physical or mental health
— Crime
— Sexual or physical abuse
— Unstable family life
— Institutional background e.g. being in care, armed forces, prison.

• Who is typically affected?

Homelessness affects a wide variety of people. Some groups of people are more vulnerable to homelessness because they have fewer rights, particular needs or are less able to cope by themselves. These include:

— Young people leaving home for the first time
— Old people
— People with children
— People with physical or mental health problems
— People on benefits or low incomes
— People leaving care
— Ex-prisoners
— Asylum seekers and refugees.

• Why do so many young people in particular become homeless?

• How does homelessness affect young women and young men differently?

• Which young people are most at risk?

— Care leavers
— Runaways
— Young offenders
— Black & Minority Ethnic young people
— Young refugees and asylum seekers
— Young people in rural areas

• What is the impact of homelessness on young people?

— Difficulties accessing education and training
— Unemployment
— Substance misuse
— Health
— Financial difficulties

• How do you react to homelessness?

Read All About It
Complete the ‘Read All About It” template.

Preparation:
Research this topic thoroughly to get a full understanding of the issues surrounding homelessness. There is plenty of information available.

Tips / Advice:
• Visit www.shelter.org.uk/shelterguides to download free booklets on a range of housing issues.
• Know Your Rights is a website containing housing advice specifically for young people aged 16-25. Go to www.shelter.org.uk/knowyourrights where you’ll find information and advice.
• The Housing Game is a fun interactive way to prepare young people for leaving home, available from w.shelter.org.uk
• Go to w.barnardos.co.uk and look for some case studies on homelessness.
• Go to w.shelter.org.uk and use the homelessness assessment tool to find out what help people in or facing homelessness can get.
• If you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless, you should get advice as early as you can. An adviser might be able to help you find a way to stay in your home, find a new home more quickly or get help from your local council. You can get advice from a housing aid centre, Shelter’s free national helpline (.shelter.org.uk), a citizens’ advice bureau, your local council or a local advice agency.


Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
• Make sure that the group keep references to immigration moderate and objective.
• Take note of whether anyone could be suffering homelessness and bad housing.
• Keep the discussion at a theoretical level.

Taster 3 - Soup Kitchen

Aim: To see how different organisations help with homelessness.

Instructions:

If it wasn’t for Barnardos Id still be sleeping rough — in doorways and sheds — anywhere I could find,” Richard (19) who was homeless and now lives in a shared flat.

There are many charities and organisations that work with those that are homeless, and it goes far beyond soup kitchens. Find out v4iat happens in your area and arrange a visit to see what they do.

Preparation:
You will need to research the projects that are going on in your local area.

Tips / Advice:
Have a look at w.shelter.org.uk, www.barnardos.org.uk, .oasistrust.org.

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
Carry out a risk assessment and gain parental consent for any special activities.

Christian Faith - When Were You ...

Aim: To react to homelessness with compassion

Instructions:
Homeless people, especially if they beg on the streets, are often seen in a negative way by newspapers and television as well as by members of the public. People often say things like: “He should get off his backside and find a job” or “it’s her choice,” or even, they’re all on drugs anyway, it’s their own fault.” Not everyone feels like that about homeless people. Many people realise that homelessness is not such a simple thing. Homeless people have many different kinds of problems such as broken or unhappy families, feeling lonely and afraid on the streets and the difficulties of staying healthy.

Think about:
• What other sorts of things have you heard people say about homeless people?
• What is your own view — is it their fault, are they making choices?
• Do we judge the homeless or act with compassion?

Read Leviticus 25:35-36, Isaiah 58:6-8, Matthew 25:34-40.

Think about:
• What is God’s view of the homeless?

Now reread the Christmas story. The central plot of the Christmas story is not one of glitz and glamour, but of a God who became human and entered our broken world and cares deeply for the invisible and the ignored, the marginal and the vulnerable, the nameless and the forgotten, all those people whom society pushes to the periphery. Jesus was born in a dirty stable and not a palace. Along with all the central characters he was homeless.

Reflect
If Jesus came to earth, Lived in a stable and spent time with the powerless:
• Why is it difficult to see Jesus in the homeless?
• What can you do to be like Jesus?

Pray
Pray for those that are homeless, and for our attitude towards Them.

Project - Sleep Out

Aim: To sleep out for one night.

Project Description:
The idea of this project is to spend a night sleeping out. Make sure that
• You have plenty of blankets, plastic sheeting, and cardboard boxes to build a shelter.
• Try and make sure you sleep off the floor to avoid heat loss.
• Create a wind break.
• Ensure that you can do this in an enclosed outside space, e.g. the church car path, away from the general view of the public.

Talk about the difficulties those who sleep rough experience:
• How do you think it makes people feel?
• Is this an accurate experience of someone who sleeps rough? Why not?

Tips / Advice:
• Make sure you have plenty of clothes, keep warm and have plenty of hot drinks.
• Only do this activity in appropriate weather conditions.
• This activity could be done as a fundraiser and can take place inside or outside.
• You could use the tasters as a basis for discussion.
• Why not take part in St Basils BIG Sleepout in Birmingham vw.stbasils.org.uk?

Safety Issues / Risk Assessment:
If any member of the group is feeling too cold make sure that they return inside and warm up.

For full details the BB Seniors Challenge Plus Pro Pack, Community Project C-7

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