Every year, homelessness gets a lot of coverage in the media around Christmas time – especially the issue of rough sleeping. During a time when people are thankful for their families, good food and a warm, safe place to live, they want to reach out to people without those things.
We are truly grateful for the wonderful donations we received at St Martins during December – including food, clothing and cash gifts. The money given will ensure we can help more rough sleepers get away from the street and into accommodation. The more money we receive, the more people we can help. The food and clothes have been distributed to those who need them.
However, a bed for the night, a full stomach and a warm jumper doesn’t change a person’s situation. It makes them more comfortable but those things alone don’t set a person on a new path. Homelessness is a complex problem.
We work hard to help people overcome the causes of their homelessness, which are often manifold and intertwined. Challenges can include unemployment, mental illness, isolation, debt problems, domestic abuse and drug and alcohol misuse.
Support workers are the real heroes
In a professional world we hear about ‘service users’, ‘interventions’ and ‘pathways’ but the reality is that we are people supporting other people, it’s as simple as that. We are experienced and knowledgeable and know that the road out of homelessness is not always a straight one. We are not phased when things don’t go to plan.
Our support workers weave a network of care around each person, depending on what their needs are, working with other organisations and charities – we are not so arrogant that we think we can do this alone!
St Martins has been around in Norwich for over 40 years. We are in this for the long term, every day of the year, despite every obstacle. Homelessness is not just a Christmas crisis.