Helping the homeless in Leeds

Helping the homeless in Leeds
homeless man

Image credit: Pixabay

I’ve written before about how helping the homeless is something I think everyone should be doing and I entirely appreciate that I’m sat here writing this with the privilege of being on my sofa, in my flat, knowing that tomorrow morning I’ll be getting up to go to work. A lot of what I have is down to hard work, but there’s no denying that what a lot of what I and my peers have is down to having grown up in an environment where poverty just wasn’t on our radars, it’s as simple as that. Not everyone is so lucky, and when your social circles don’t overlap with those who aren’t, it sets you worlds apart from those who have only known life as a struggle. The number of rough sleepers is on the up in my Yorkshire and the Humber, with big increases (+50%) from 2010 – 2016, but work is being done to help reduce the number of people becoming homeless, with a 10%* increase in the number of households being helped to remain in their own home after being threatened with homeless in the same time period. (*Stats from Simon on the Streets).

Homelessness is hard to avoid as a short walk through the city centre of Leeds shows you a number of people living on the streets or seeking shelter overnight but begging throughout the day, so I wanted to put a post together with tips on how you can do something to make a difference as to be quite honest, every little helps.

1. Support Simon on the Streets. If you’re keen to really get involved, Simon on the Streets is a Leeds based charity which supports homeless people in the area and they have sponsored ‘sleep outs’ where anyone can sign up to spend a night with their team experiencing to a certain extent sleeping rough. This is something which individuals can get sponsored to do to raise money for the charity too.

2. Buy a homeless person food or a hot drink. It’s almost instinctive to give a homeless person spare change but you don’t know where that might be spent and that could be drugs or alcohol. Taking time to go to a shop or fast food restaurant to buy something for someone who is homeless means that at least that day they’ll have eaten something substantial. I tend to buy meals deals (sandwich, crisps, bottled water) and a treat (usually chocolate or sweets, whatever is on offer), so that they have something to see them through the next few hours.

3. Spare your time. Chat to them, take five minutes out of your day, as they’re people too. And sitting on a street corner watching the world go by all day every day has to be the most boring thing in the world.

4. Donate practical items. In Leeds, St George’s Crypt does appeals every Christmas for giftbags/shoe boxes filled with non-perishable food items, toiletries and things like hats and gloves. I’ve done a couple of these in the past and it’s honestly the most rewarding Christmas gift to give. Alternatively, if you’re on O2, how about donating your O2 priority free coffee that you get from Cafe Nero every Tuesday?

5. Pay it forward. When someone treats you, pass it on. I try and do this as much as I can when I’ve been to blogger events or have done restaurant reviews etc as someone else has paid for my dinner so I try to do pay it forward to someone else who is in need. This could go for when you go out with your parents and they treat you or if you’re out and your date picks up the tab. It’s little things like that which do add up and make a difference.

As I write this post, I feel like I’m preaching and doing a bit of a humble brag to make myself look good, but I promise that’s not the case. Sometimes I do shout about times when I’ve bought homeless people food as it encourages others to do it, but more often than not, it happens without any social media mention. It would honestly mean the world to me if everyone who reads this post over the next week or so does their bit and shouts from the rooftops about it though as if you’re seen to be helping, you never know who you might prompt to do a good turn too.

FYI, I haven’t been asked to write this post, this is not sponsored or a brand collaboration, it is simply a cause I believe in and the lovely folk at Simon on the Streets helped me out with some info.

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