Home. It’s a strange word. For most people home brings joy, security and comfort. A home isn’t just bricks and mortar, it’s a place where we are our most authentic selves and feel safe in our most vulnerable moments. In fact, a home doesn’t have to be a house at all; it can be a person, a place or a city. It’s the place where you feel content and enjoy returning despite the past or negative aspects and its quirks, you love it anyway. Tell us about your home and what it means to you in the comments below.
Unfortunately, not everyone has somewhere they call home. Sometimes they do, but they have been forced to move away or simply don’t have access to their home. It’s in these times we have to make the best out of the situation and find small ways through our communities we can give everyone a sense of home and belonging. Here is the story of my home and how we can help more people like Jasmine find a home, however temporary.
My home is London, specifically my Gran’s home in East London. It’s the first home I was brought to after I was born and it is the place I choose to return to every time I visit. The strong oak front door that’s kept my family safe for almost fifty years, calms my anxiety. The faint smell of cooked tomatoes and roast potato brings a smile to my lips as I walk through the door. Waking up to the sound of the washing machine and my Gran almost shouting down the phone to some friend or family member in her thick Italian accent, lets me know I’m exactly where I need to be. If I’m lucky, I’ll even have breakfast waiting for me on the round kitchen table. The red patterned carpet is slightly dated, some of the curtains don’t quite work because we haven’t got round to fixing them yet and the boiler is just the tiniest bit too big for its cupboard, but it’s my home.
Three months after my last visit, I returned home for Easter for a few days to see family but something was different. The actual house was the same, but there was some kind of charge in the air that seemed to energise and motivate me, it was almost healing. Walking along the same streets of London I have traversed a thousand times just didn’t seem enough. You can definitely call me crazy but I remember wanting to literally get on the floor, crawl along and just melt into the streets and become part of the city’s foundation. Knowing it was London and what was probably on the floor made me think twice. Luckily I managed to save myself a trip to the old Bedlam Mental Asylum and skipped along instead.
It’s not the first time the city of London has inspired such madness in me and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Seeing so many homeless people where I felt so at home was heart-wrenching, however. Noticing someone sleeping near the corner of Tottenham Court Road while my feet, as if on autopilot, moved down the street to cross just past the huge interchange gave me a little perspective. I am so fortunate to be able to cross a road with direction and focus, move away from danger and find a quieter place and have somewhere to be, others are not so lucky.
On the way to meet my cousins, I saw a young man who looked eerily like my younger brother with his head in his hands, crying, homeless. I went and bought him a toastie and a hot cup of tea while someone was speaking to him but he was gone by the time I came back, he had been moved on by police. With an unwanted tea and toastie in my hand, I continued walking on and hoped I would find someone to give it to. Five minutes later, I found a young woman, Jasmine, nineteen years old. She had been in the care for most of her life and had been told there was no more room at the hostel she was staying in. She couldn’t find a job or claim benefits because he didn’t have an address. She was a young, vulnerable woman on the streets of London, I had to do something to help her, I couldn’t just leave her there. This is what you can do to.
First, I gave Jasmine the number of the free Shelter hotline on 0808 800 4444 who would be able to immediately help her find a bed for the night and give her advice.
I gave her the address of a local Homeless Day Shelter where she can shower and wash her clothes I found on Homeless Link – https://www.homeless.org.uk
I also remembered there was an app Street Link where I could notify local outreach teams with a location and description who would try to find her and give her a bed. https://streetlink.force.com/#
After a few minutes of speaking to her, we said goodbye and now I’m waiting for an update as to how she’s doing from Street Link, it takes up to ten days. It wasn’t much but hopefully, Jasmine is on the road to having somewhere to call home, however temporary.
If you see or are worried about a young homeless person lease take a look at Centrepoint to see how you can help here.
Please click through to Shelter for a wealth of information as to what you can do in your local area here
Is there anything else I could have done to help Jasmine? Tell us what home means to you in the comments too.
Over and Out,