Each year World Homeless Day draws attention to the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness and brings communities together to respond locally.
This year the need for such focus is clearer than ever. The worsening cost-of-living crisis and economic uncertainty will push more people to situations where they cannot afford their rent, mortgage and bills. They will be forced into one of the many types of homelessness through no fault of their own.
Stigmas around homelessness make it difficult for people to ask for help and can push them further from support. It was only in February, following a campaign led by charities and organisations across the sector, that the Government repealed the Vagrancy Act – a law dating back to 1824 which allows police to arrest and charge people for sleeping rough or begging in England and Wales.
Repealing this outdated law is clearly a step in the right direction, but there are still prejudices and misconceptions about people who experience homelessness. This leads to social isolation for those impacted and hampers the rate of social and political change needed to make homelessness a thing of the past.
We asked some of the people who receive support from Emmaus what they felt the misconceptions are about homelessness and what they would tell someone currently experiencing it.
As an Emmaus supporter, I know you understand the complexities of homelessness and the challenges faced by people forced to live without a home. Together we can continue to challenge harmful perceptions, confront misconceptions, and further influence political change to ensure impactful and long-term support is accessible to everyone who needs it.
Charlotte Talbott is Chief Executive of Emmaus UK. Emmaus supports more than 850 formerly homeless people across the UK, providing them with a home for as long as they need it, support, meaningful work and training. There are now 30Emmaus communities across the UK, and three Emmaus groups currently working to open new communities.