The large amount of people sleeping rough on the streets of New York City was something I would actually consider heart-breaking. It made me so sad to see so many people in that unfortunate position, for such a variety of reasons.
The Bowery Mission has a whole article talking in depth about the amount of homeless people in New York, however it’s the statistics at the beginning of the article that really stand out to me. “In a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 homeless men, women and children sleep in homeless shelters and at least 3,100 more sleep on the streets and subways in the dead of winter. This means that one in every 147 New Yorkers is currently homeless.”
I cannot imagine what it must be like to be living on the streets especially in the freezing conditions in the winter, the fact that some people have to go through that due to reasons that are out of there hands I think is horrifying. I feel so much sympathy for these people and it really does upset me that there isn’t anything that I can do to help them.
It’s the little things that count and I hope that my little action was one that counted. After a meal at Gallagher’s on our last night we got our food boxed up to give away to the homeless. One guy that I spoke to was one that I’d walked past every day, he had signs explaining that he needed money to get a train to his brothers and a phone to get in touch with his family. Every night I would see him wrap himself up as best that he could in order to try and stay warm over night, this made me feel so so lucky to have a home (or hotel in this case) to go back to when the day was over. When I spoke to him he was so polite and grateful for the food and it was actually quite a sad moment. It seems impossible that such a friendly, young man could end up in that position so far from his family… But really it could happen to anyone.
Now I’m back in the UK I can’t stop thinking about the man that I spoke to and how sad it is that so many people are in that situation.The homelessness in England isn’t much better either, The Guardian released an article written by Emma Jackson revealing the shocking statistic that there has been a 40% increase of homelessness in London since 2011. Realistically there isn’t much I can do alone to help these people, I’m 18 and an unemployed student still at sixth form. The way I look at it though is that if everyone that reads this makes a little effort to help a homeless person, together we are making a difference.
So what can we do to make a difference?
Like I said it’s the little things that help. Have you gone out for a meal and have some food left on your plate? Get it boxed up and give it to a homeless person if you pass them on your way home. You could buy them a sandwich or something, a hot drink maybe. With winter upon us these people are going to be freezing outside, anything to warm them up I’m sure will be greatly appreciated. Have an old blanket you don’t want any more? Don’t throw it away, donate it! Even a smile goes a long way, think how it must feel having hundreds of people walking past you everyday and treating you like you’re invisible. So say hello, make a smile, make them feel like they exist.
Another thing that is really important to do and something I’ve only just come across is an app called Street Link. Here you can get help for a homeless person by giving their description and where you last saw them. These people are in desperate need of help and it doesn’t take long to fill out one of these reports, just think you could be saving someones life.
From now on I’m going to be making an effort to do as much as I possibly can for these people. Even though it may not seem much, I know that to them it means a lot. So as it gets nearer to Christmas, don’t forget about these people who have no one to look out for them and try to do something to benefit the lives of someone less fortunate as us.