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Homelessness in London: How Students Can Help to End it

When I first came to London, I was caught off guard by the sheer scale of the homeless population. It seemed to me that you couldn’t turn a corner without being met by a new face asking for spare change. When I brought this up with my brother-who had been living in London for one year at the time- I was met by the response: “you get used to it.”

Five years later and I can’t say this is something that I’ve gotten used to.  The problem is getting worse every year, with local agencies reporting that 7,581 people slept rough in London in 2014/2015; over double the figures from 2009/2010.

What shocked me even more, however, was our reactions to homelessness; it’s something we are very good at having sympathy for from afar, yet in practice our actions are constrained by our concerns of safety and our cynicism of being conned. Many of us avoid eye contact and walk on the other side of the street to try and distance ourselves from the reality.

On Monday, October 12, I attended a homeless charity concert in St John’s church (right beside the Waterloo Campus) organised by the Bermondsey Voices; a choir which included one of our very own King’s nursing students, Liz George, who also sings for the GKT choir. This made me see that there are things that we, as students, can get involved in to make a difference.

Bermondsey Voices Choir performing at the event

 

I spoke with Les Ackley, a volunteer for the charity for 4 years, to find out more about how students can help. He spoke of roles like sorting the bedding, taking part in the annual sleep out and serving meals. Les emphasised that volunteering is not always about meeting the homeless but about what you can do for the overall “mosaic”: volunteering is just one piece in the bigger issue.

While many of us feel passionate about tackling homelessness, we also feel clueless as to how we can help. This event, however, is a clear example of how students in London, who are met with homelessness every day, can make a difference.

If you want to find out more information about how you can get involved please visit:

http://www.robes.org.uk/

[email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/Kings-Hot-Choc-Soc-174180549436090/

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