In the Youth and Schools team at Urban Seed we like to talk.. and talk and talk.. Mainly because we want to share some of the great stuff we have learned through many years of hanging out with people who are different from us.
Sometimes groups of students want to interview us and ask us questions that relate to stuff they’re learning at school. It could be for a project or as part of their school’s city exposure week.
I met with a group of year 9s today. They wanted to chat about homelessness and what it is like for us to hang out with homeless people so I did my best to answer their questions and I thought you might like to hear a couple of my responses too!
Q. Do you feel self conscious when you’re walking down the street with a homeless person?? Do you feel like people are looking at you funny??
A. Well, that’s a tricky question. Did you know that not all homeless people “look” homeless?? Some my homeless friends would not really stand out in the crowd at all. Just today I had lunch with a guy who has been homeless for the best part of a year. He is living in a refuge right now. You’d never guess he was homeless as he is only 22 and dresses pretty normally. Nice hat, nice shoes, he’s clean etc. But he’s homeless.
That said, sometimes I do hang out with homeless people who fit the scruffy homeless stereotype and when I do, (to be really honest) sometimes people do stare or give us funny looks. But then I remember that this is how it feels to be different.. to be one of “THEM”. And those feelings of discomfort and awkwardness are for me, a fleeting feeling. But for someone who sleeps rough and/or looks “homeless”, this is what they face every day.
Q. What are some of the main reasons people end up homeless?
A. Homelessness is often the result of many different factors – some of these are family breakdown, abuse, trauma, disability, addictions, illness and poverty. For the 45% of Australia’s 100,000 + homeless people that are under 25 years of age, domestic violence is the number one cause.
Q. What are some of the biggest hurdles to getting back on track?
A. I think one of the biggest ones is not having an address. There are many hurdles but the simple fact of not having an address means that people can’t get any government payments (as it’s one of the first questions on the paperwork), can’t get a job (what is written on the top of your resume??… yup! Your address!), and don’t have anywhere to have mail sent so even if they did get a job it would be very difficult to receive correspondence.
Thanks for the questions guys. I’d love to answer more so if you have any please send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org