(Cover Image & Source: Is This The Future of The Modern World?, Homeless in Birmingham, U.K. @ Birmingham Live)
…The days are becoming darker and shorter, and the cold breeze of the winter that is coming fast warns us all, the homeless people, that it is time to find the right shelters, because winter in the north Europe can be extremely harsh and deadly, if you are not protected well against the cold, rain and snow. And especially against the cold wind, the real enemy of our sensitive and partly damaged immune system.
But where to find the real and permanent shelters when there is no such thing, at least not here in the capital od Scandinavia, frozen tomb of Stockholm. Problem that we all homeless and unemployed, foreigners as well as locals, have to take into consideration is that there are only two available shelters here in the city (provided by The Salvation Army), and on its outskirts, shelters that are not well suited for all those homeless people that need a place to sleep over, shelters that are small, often to crowded, dirty and above all, not suited for most of the people that need a place to sleep over the night.
Above all of the mentioned problems, one of the biggest is that it is not possible to leave your things there during the day, which can be such a hassle if you have a big rucksack and other things that you have to carry all over the town and every day, no matter is it cold or warm, sunny, rainy or snowy weather outside. Also, the other problem is that there is a rule which tells you that you can stay no longer then five days in a row in a shelter, and then you have to be two days out; which can be a challenge if you have to sleep outside in such a cold weather. Third, you have to pay for your sleeping, 10 Swedish Crowns per night.
Considering all that bad conditions, mostly unacceptable for homeless people like me, most of us rather chose to spent the night trying to find some sort of temporary shelter in the city than to sleep in that crowdy, noisy and mostly dirty shelters.
What we all need, is a change in an attitude of the local community and new set of rules and projects, made for all homeless and unemployed people, not only in helping them to find suitable and permanent shelters, but also a possibility to find some job, which is the only right thing that can “get us all out” of these homeless problems.
Let´s face it, without the permanent job you can´t earn the money (at least not legally), and without the money (in this corrupted capitalist society) you can´t pay for proper accomodation, food, transportation costs and all the other basic expenses that we all have, especially when you live in the big cities.
For me personally, what we all need is the modern social centres, which should be/have:
- opened seven days a week, at least 8.00-20.00 every day
- include three meals per day (breakfast 8.00-10.00/lunch 12.00-14.00/dinner 16.00-18.00)
- showering once a day (with included towels, shampoos, hairdryers,…, with razor blades for shaving, haircut machines for haircut, special hygiene products for women and children, etc.)
- washing personal clothes once a day
- chance to obtain free new clothes, shoes and other similar items
- free WiFi /internet/ computers
- medical doctors/dentists etc., visiting once a week
- agents for helping people to make all the important documents (from the public facilities like migration office, tax office, employment agency, health insurance, social insurance, etc.) as well as for helping them to find a first or new job in the city
- other social projects like learning languages, getting qualifications for the new job opportunities etc.
And as far as for the homeless shelters, we need a new social system, new rules and methods which should provide us with new social facilities, specially made to accommodate people that have no place to stay or sleep, a complex of tent-like buildings that should have multiple rooms with one- or two-bed rooms, and a small locker or cabinet for keeping things of every user, at least during the day. All the other important facilities, like toiletes and showers should be located in the common areas, between or in the centre of this dormitory block facility (a military base-like structure).
Using of this homeless shelter camps and social centre services should not be for free, but with a small, let´s say provisory cost for every user. All the other costs should be provided from social system money, i.e., provided by paying social tax by workers, and other tax-paying customers. If the customers of this facilities (homeless, poor, unemployed) can not pay for this services with money, they will pay it by doing a voluntary work, which should be provided on the site or in other city´s public voluntary services.
As well as for finding a job for all the users of this facilities (socially disadvantaged groups), they can work in these camps or social centres for some provisional salary (like a part-time job), or work on city´s public works (cleaning, gardening, construction, etc.), that should be provided regularily by social and other city´s agents (on the bulletin boards in the camps and social centres), for the exact hourly rate and other rights of employees under a legally regulated and signed employment contract (even do they are homeless, they should have all the rights as any other worker or citizen).
In general, homeless camps and social centres should be not only places where people can eat, sleep, shower etc., but most importantly, places to start a new life.
All those that are unemployed or homeless because of physical or mental issues (like alcohol or drug abuse and addictions in general), will be taken care in the special homeless/social centres where they should go through their addiction and other problems (rehabilitation system), and then through the employment and other issues required to begin their new life in the overall community.