[PS: My name’s Tanmay Baste, the new member of PWY team, and I hope to continue writing about insights and cool stuff I learn at Partners With You Ltd you could try these out.]
T.L.D.R: Almost everyone of us has come in contact with someone we know who was homeless at some point of their life. The following blog is about my experience at Wycombe Homeless Connection, where I learned the emotional side of support everyone of us can give to homeless individuals to help them move forward in their lives.
In stark contrast of today’s improving standard of living, globalisation, and the growth of digital economy, the sustenance of our affluent nature is juxtaposed by increasing violence, wars, medical calamities, global warming, etc. Homelessness is one of these crises affecting over 100 million people today.
The past few years have seen growth in collective action through social media through “viral” campaigns such as Kony 2012, Movember, and the ALS Challenge. Homelessness too, has been in the media limelight for the past few weeks, following reports of spikes laid outside apartments, to Miley Cyrus delegating a homeless teen to accept her VMA award, to the #RethinkHomelessness campaign.
A common question faced by many of us who wish to help, is the decision of how to act on it. Finding the solution to eradicating homelessness would be greatly appreciated, but unlikely. Usually we let the thought of helping out go into cryofreeze until the next viral campaign touches us. Sally, the founder of Partners With You, had a different thought on ways of helping homeless individuals. With her expertise in building confidence in others on how they present themselves, she decided to use them in motivating members of Wycombe Homeless Connection charity. She believes it is crucial to help them tackle feelings of isolation, and build their confidence in facing the immense hardships that come with being homeless. Shockingly, even a town as peaceful as High Wycombe has over 300 homeless people every year!! The Department for Communities and Local Government’s 2014 Report states that 54% of every relief application by a homeless household is refused, and surprisingly, the largest segment of homeless individuals – Lone male parent – had only 4% chances of acceptance by local authorities. On top of that, what is staggering is that 62% of all homeless individuals never show up on the radar, including people who couch surf or temporarily stay at a relative/friend’s place. The number of rough sleepers dramatically increased by a third since 2010.
Last week, on 8th September, 2014 (which was my first day of placement at Partners with You!), Sally conducted her third and final session at High Wycombe Homeless Connection. She spoke about the several ways of communicating with others, and the benefits of assertiveness. I initially expected the workshop to get lackluster responses, as I perceived the attendants to be more worried about a roof on their head than how to come across as confident. But I soon realised how impactful it was to them. Every attendant arrived on time, and tried to apply previous weeks learnings with Sally, with the enthusiasm and drive to be better. I realised the need for a personal interaction in charity, how every simple gesture, contribution, and commitment emotionally impacts the ones who so crave that sense of affection they haven’t felt in ages!
My initial week at Partners With You has shown me a moral value businesses must recognise today, that a Corporate Social Responsibility is not just a page in a yearly report, but something that undertones the way you do business. I hope my experience triggered some of your altruistic genes to rethink ways we as businesses and members of society can contribute to easing the hardships homeless individuals face, and other crises.