Today's society has become so used to seeing people sleeping on the street and thanks to the media, the homeless society has had a direct impact on the public's understanding and attitudes towards the problem. It strengthens negative stereotypes about homelessness and drives people further away from believing that ending homelessness is possible.
Often, people walk past a person who is homeless without acknowledging them. Sometimes it's easier not making eye contact and continue going about your own day, but when you are someone experiencing homelessness on the streets, the power of eye contact can make a big difference. It's no longer about making people uncomfortable but in fact for a very simple reason to gain the acknowledgement from strangers that they exist.
It’s Worse to Be Ignored than to Be Rejected
Trying to break the stigma is always hard, people assume that people experiencing homelessness are alcoholics or drug addicts, and that anything they give them will only be used to purchase harmful substances, so instead they put their head down and walk a little faster.
We don't know what the circumstances are for people ending up on the streets so it is important to at least acknowledge that they exist and help them without moral judgment. A little humanity can go a long way.
So next time when you pass someone on the streets who is experiencing homelessness, please try to give them a smile, a warm greeting, and maybe even spare some time to have a chat if the circumstances allow. Simple things like this can truly make all the difference.
Written by: Sindy Reyes
If you'd like to learn more about this topic, tune in to our podcast episodes below:
- Challenging The Stigmas & Stereotypes Around Homelessness with Kate Shelley from The People Project and Hugo Sugg from The Cardon Banfield Foundation
- An episode on "Doing Something For Nothing" with Joshua Coombes