10 October is World Homeless Day. Every year, we join this global call to raise awareness of homelessness and – like this year’s theme – “take stock” of our response to ending homelessness in New Zealand. Every year, we participate in local events that bring together our friends across Auckland. Together we join hands across organisations to look after our street whanau and those who may be on the verge of homelessness.
But this year is different. This year, a global pandemic has kept us from gathering publicly in a show of solidarity with people experiencing homelessness. As a result, we have lost the chance to share the vital work we do with the broader public. We need to find other ways to spark the warmth of empathy, so more people understand the vicious cycle of homelessness and the factors that cause it.
Ending homelessness requires a holistic approach. We have to work together in our communities to prevent homelessness before it happens. This is not a novel idea. It’s like treating a health or medical issue. Rather than simply treating the symptom, we also seek to treat the cause. The same applies to homelessness, which is a symptom of other systemic issues.
Being homeless is not a “choice”. Our research and experience have shown us that people who end up “sleeping rough” share certain similarities, such as a history of mental health or addiction issues or a childhood spent in foster care. We have also seen that, through the support of friends and whānau and the community at large, people are less likely to fall back into homelessness. That’s why all Lifewise services work to prevent homelessness in different ways.
What’s happening for this year’s World Homeless Day?
Lifewise is joining Manaaki Rangatahi – New Zealand’s Youth Homelessness Collective – in a series of online activations events. Our goal is to work together with organisations across Tāmaki Makaurau to #EndYouthHomelesness for good. Visit the Manaaki Rangatahi Facebook page to add this series of Facebook events to your calendar, and share with your friends and family, too.
We are also inviting you to share your message of hope against homelessness on your social media channels. Use the hashtags #EndingHomelessness and #WorldHomelessDay2021 to share your words of strength and encouragement. If you need some inspiration, have a look at the quotes below.
While you’re here, have a look around our website to see how Lifewise services work together to tackle and prevent homelessness in different ways. Check out Lifewise Merge Cafe, our Youth Housing Service, or read about our successful COVID-19 vaccination clinic to help more of our street whānau to receive their dose. And if you like what you see, please consider making a donation. Your support makes all the difference!