My partner and I volunteered at a homeless shelter last month – the idea being to channel our spare time and seasonal spirit into something community-focused and productive.
I’ve worked in many inner-city and over-burdened Accident & Emergency departments overseas, so thought I had a good grasp of challenging most stereotypes, including ones about the homeless. But that went flying out of the window once I actually met the guests at the shelter and when I thought about the experience afterwards.
One of these is that although the word ‘homeless’ conjures up images of people sleeping on the street, there are many people in different situations. These include those who have no permanent home (sleeping on sofas at friends’ houses maybe) or who are temporarily accommodated at a long-term shelter.
The UN identifies two categories: primary homelessness, or sleeping rough; and secondary homelessness, those with a roof over their head