A few months a go I saw a post on a Facebook group from a girl who was homeless. penniless, sofa surfing and looking for a job. We had some odd jobs at the time and I contacted her to see how we could help. She had no transport and no money to travel to our office so we arranged for one of our staff (Sarah) to pick her up and drop her off each day. We asked her to wear messy clothes as some of the work involved oiling leather and she replied " I only have one set of clothes". We didn't have continuous work available, but in the time she was with us she managed to find a permanent position as a receptionist with another company and get on top of her life.
I have always been compassionate towards homeless people, which I think was indoctrinated into me at a young age. My father died living on the streets when I was a young child, and I was brought up by a mother that at times had to use food banks to feed us. I think as a result of this my grandmother felt a need to help the homeless and used to do the Big Issues nighttime walk to raise money for their charity.
I recently watched the BBC series 'Famous Rich and Homeless' which put wealthy celebrities on the streets for a week for them to experience (to some degree) what it is like to be homeless. I was appalled at the way peoples attitude towards a person instantly changes when they believe you are homeless. As if being homeless and relying on others generosity isn't degrading enough, these people are then subjected to second class citizenship.
Are people so caught up in capitalism that they really believe people are solely responsible for their own failures? We live in a world where to become successful we tend to tread on others, and this system creates victims. George Osborne's 2016 budget sees cuts to some of the poorest in society whilst giving tax breaks to some of the richest and our recent government has seen homelessness increase by 55% as a direct result of these type of cuts. How can we continue to blame victims for their circumstances when we choose to deny them an equal chance of success? Our poor perception of these people has been reinforced by the demonisation used by our media, which pushes them further away from society.
People are under the illusion that it will never happen to them, that they are somehow immune to failure. We should all ask ourselves, how many months without a job could we maintain a home? How long would your savings last? You may have a good support network, but what if they were taken away from you? What if you suffered a mental illness? Domestic violence? A house fire? What will happen to you during our next financial crisis?
I don't believe homelessness has a simple solution because it is not a simple problem. It is made up of too many factors. I do know that that preventing people from falling into poverty is a much easier task. We hope to be part of this by inviting vulnerable people to work with us on our new collection.
It is a sad fact that where governments have failed, charities have had to step up and as part of our support we will be donating a percentage of each bag sale from our new collection to a homeless charity of our choice.
By Ozric Vondervelden
(What Daisy Did co-founder & partner)
Check out how we are tackling homelessness here!!