After the baltic weather we’ve had recently, I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media all saying the same thing. If you see a homeless person over this cold and snowy period, call this number or use this app, to alert shelter staff to their whereabouts, so that a roof can be put over their head for the night. This is such a lovely and heart-warming idea, that many people are likely to benefit from and I’m not, in any way, trying to discredit that. Taking a cold and vulnerable homeless person out of the snow for a night and giving them a warm bed, an evening meal and a hot drink. It’s a fantastic idea to aid those in a time of need. However, the fact that it’s taken the so-called beast from the east to make us do something is really upsetting. When you strip away the façade, you begin to question why services like this aren’t circulated and publicised more often. Why didn’t we know about these apps, that we could have at our fingertips, to give people a warm place to stay? Most of the time when we see homeless people in the street, asking us for spare change, we hurry past; heads down, pretending to be engrossed in our phones and ignoring the world around us. Why is it only now that we’ve realised they matter? Why has it taken Storm Emma for them to be unmasked as people? For them to be viewed as equals? The weather shouldn’t be your reason for helping somebody, someone, anyone when they are constantly begging for our help. Crisis’ should not be the reason for a reaction, the action should come first. I’m not saying the urge to help makes us bad people, however we shouldn’t feel as though helping one person obtain a bed for the night, by calling a number we saw on Facebook, makes us better people. One good deed won’t always change all future actions and I’m sure we can all say that we’ve passed a homeless person, brolly up, in the rain. Reading this, you may have enough income for a phone or/and laptop and you probably have a roof or shelter over your head. I know that we all have our own issues and these don’t become invalid at the expense of other people’s, but as they say, a problem shared is indeed a problem halved.
I saw a lot of similar things at Christmas. Take for instance, the shoe boxes which basically every primary school child in Britain is encouraged to fill with toys and necessities to send to a child in a less fortunate place. Again, Operation Christmas Child a lovely idea, but I can only wonder why the urgency to fill a shoebox is not continued into high school and beyond. Why is it, that when we go to a place where we are faced with more challenges and responsibilities, that the needs of those less fortunate are overlooked? Those in need, need us. Surely, if we continued this system through high school, everyone would feel much more obliged to continue this into their adult life. Also, why is the whole scheme called Operation Christmas Child? Do we, as a society, believe that these poor and helpless children, only need help at Christmas? Do they only deserve gifts and attention at Christmas? Precisely my point.
I think what I most take exception to, is how the suffering of others is treated as though it’s a trend. Everyone is always quick to post ‘pray for…’ and follow this up with hashtags, whilst it’s ‘relevant’, but then after a while, just like every other trend we move on, we forget and this shouldn’t be the case. We should always offer our support to those in need and those who may be less fortunate. We shouldn’t only support things whilst they are trending, to make ourselves look good or to appear as though we are concerned with world issues. We shouldn’t just help those in need for a short period of time, because after the night in the shelter and the opening of the Christmas shoebox, then what? There’s enough money, food and shelter in the world for everyone. It’s the circumstances that need to change. If we are all honest with ourselves, when the so-called beast from the east has passed, we’ll be hash tagging new trends and taking our eyes from those who remain on the street. Remember the ‘A dog is not just for Christmas’ campaign? Exactly.