In these times of a shakily recovering global economy, lots of people have lost their jobs – many have ended up on the streets, being unable to pay their mortgages and loans. You may have come across stories of people having to live in their cars for months on end. Sadly, many of us don’t heed their plight until we ourselves get a taste of the difficulties they’re faced with.
All that is needed for society to be healed again is a small contribution from everyone to help humanity in distress – remembering that we’re all the same in the end is what matters most. Here are some ways in which you can help the homeless, for they are us, and we might find ourselves in their shoes one day.
- Break the stereotypes, understand who the homeless are – Try to discover the reasons behind their homelessness and bear in mind that each situation is unique.
- Volunteer at a shelter – Shelters are dependent on the dedication of their volunteers – from meal servers, to counsellors. You might even donate to the shelter to improve its accommodations for the homeless – a place for them to sleep, be it an inexpensive air mattress per person, is far better from the cold, hard ground outside. There are excellent deals available on the internet for affordable, basic air mattresses that are quite durable and low maintenance, and will prove great for shelters.
- Educate yourself about homelessness and the homeless – As already mentioned, a homeless individual may be someone who lost their job, or someone who ran away from abuse as a child, or someone suffering from a mental disorder. One of the initial steps in aiding people is seeing them as unique individuals and inquiring about their needs. Notice them and talk to them as you would any other person. Most homeless people are hungry for attention.
- Respect them as individuals – Treat the homeless with the same respect and courtesy that you would give to your family, friends and employer. Treat them as you would want to be treated yourself if you were in dire need for help.
- Respond to them with kindness – You can make a lot of difference in their lives by the way you respond to them. Even a kind word and a smile every day is a good gesture – far better than ignoring or dismissing them.
- Make lists of shelters – Take a card listing local shelters that you can hand out to the homeless – you can also find shelters using your phone book.
- Buy Street Sheet – This is a newspaper issued in nearly all major American cities and aims to help the homeless survive on their own. For each paper sold, the homeless get five cents deposited into a special savings account which is earmarked for rent.
- Bring food – It can be as simple as taking some extra sandwiches with you on a walk. If you pass someone asking for change, offer them something to eat. Pack a little extra lunch, order something to take with you from a restaurant.
- Give money – One of the most straightforward ways to help those in need is to give them cash. Donate to NGOs in your area, or keep some spare change with you to hand to a local homeless. Keep an eye on what they do with it though, since some are addicted to drugs and may waste all their money on them.