What is it like being homeless in Marlborough?
At the February meeting of the Marlborough Area Poverty Action Group (MAPG), a Marlborough man, who experienced homelessness for several years, and who is now planning to develop a project aimed at helping other homeless people in the local area, outlined just how difficult life on the streets can be.
Becoming homeless is a devastating experience which can happen very quickly to young and old alike. A broken relationship, a loss of employment, unmanageable debt - and everything familiar can disappear almost overnight.
There has been a 134 per cent rise in homelessness since 2010 and an estimated 4,134 people sleep rough in England on any given night (homeless.org.uk). For many the sudden change in environment causes havoc with mental and physical health and the experience can be so disorientating that seeking help is almost impossible. When help is sought it is often fragmented and difficult to access.
His talk highlighted difficulties in decision-making and communication abilities, which can occur when people are cold, tired, hungry and angry. Many people want to help the homeless, but sometimes the help on offer is difficult to engage with. A harsh environment can alienate individuals from other people to the point where the individual may look at life much differently to a normal person.
His project, being planned in conjunction with Gloucester and Cheltenham University, hopes to bridge this communication gap through the experiences of those who have suffered homelessness.
For this reason it is being developed in collaboration with seasoned and hardy homeless people who have had time to adapt to their environment. It is primarily aimed at helping the inexperienced or vulnerable such as under 18’s, and men and women with no experience of homelessness to gain access to appropriate help as quickly as possible in order to survive the early stages of homelessness.
The project aims to be an easily accessible survival guide for those on the streets.
With a working title of “The Lamp” or thelamp.org.uk it will offer life saving advice, tips, first aid, a directory of useful numbers and provide information on where to get food/shelter/free showers/medical help/the side effects of drugs/what drugs to avoid and much more.
Most importantly it contains information that is vital to getting the help each individual needs quickly.
Printed in an easy to carry book, the initiative will also come with online services including a dedicated website, mobile app and low cost mobile device text bulletin services.