Wednesday, 21 December 2011
The news that Homeless people die, on average, 30 years before their neighbours is shocking but no surprise. The mental and physical extremes experienced by those who sleep rough or whose address is no fixed abode cannot be under estimated. It’s not just the lack of a roof - it’s the lack of purpose, identity, place and belonging that grinds down the souls of those who have no-where to lay their heads each evening. Homelessness kills and it seems like the world is still walking on by.
There are those who do great things in support of those who are homeless, not just in material provision of beds and food, but in getting beside them and walking with them. The Salvation Army, the Church of Scotland’s Cross reach and many others from the voluntary and statutory sectors save the lives of homeless people every day, or at least prolong them a little anyway. But the solutions lie in a level of material and spiritual investment that none of us, government and citizens, seem yet ready to make.
It’s not just beds, food and a roof we need to find. We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to walk with these folk, no matter how chaotic their lives or the darkness of their past for as long as it takes to get them to place that means they believe again that they matter to their neighbour; that they are both loved and loveable. That will cost a lot but when human lives are at stake, it seems a small price to pay. For the other truth the survey showed is that the human life at stake could so easily be ours.