During Homeless Persons’ Week (4th – 10th August) , Les Cohen is part of a team pushing that it’s #time4good when it comes to homelessness in our communities.
Political affiliations aside, it is no longer enough to passively accept the homeless as part of our society – we need to actively find ways to meet the needs of those who are disenfranchised in our community. On any given night in Australia, 1 in 200 people are homeless.
Homelessness does not discriminate, affecting every community in Australia. It crosses all age groups, all racial and ethnic groups, families and individuals. There are many reasons people become homeless and every situation is unique. Homeless Persons’ Week (4th – 10th August) is a national week that raises awareness of people experiencing homelessness and those at risk. With Homeless Persons’ Week in mind, the charity that I founded, “Professionals 4 People” looked to consider small ways in which we could do good for the community. We decided to create a documentary in conjunction with the #time4good campaign where we helped a Sydney-based guy called Alex. Alex, 37 had been homeless on and off for several years finding it difficult to find stable accommodation and work. The P4P team and volunteers donated just a few hours of their time and were able to help Alex find stable accommodation and receive food, social services, job training, new clothes, a haircut, medical and nutritional treatment, and even a vet for his dog.
I recognise that not everyone can afford to donate money. This is why we are calling for people to make #time4good and use their spare time to get involved with their community and help others. Small acts of kindness do not require a lot of effort but they can go a long way in helping people who are less fortunate than us.
In 2013, the NSW Mental Health Commission released its report on Mental Health and homelessness, identifying the tangible link between mental illness and how one may quite simply spiral with or without certain support systems, again confirming that homelessness does not discriminate. That fact can be terrifying. Equally terrifying is the response people still have towards those in our community who may find themselves in this situation. When metal spikes were installed outside a London Apartment block in an attempt to stop homeless people from finding shelter there , social media went crazy with anger and disgust. The spikes were quickly removed after a petition of over 130,000 people indicated their shock at such a cruel move. In response to this, RainCity Housing, located in Vancouver, Canada, set up signage on a bench which during the day said “This is a bench” and at night converted to “This is a bedroom” as well as “Find shelter here”. It is easy to find disgust in those who take action that can seem cruel, but its also equally important to take action in ways that are less public, yet may have a greater impact in the wider community.
Take a look at this short video about Alex and his makeover and find out why it’s #Time4Good
The #Time4Good campaign, championed by Professionals 4 People, is a strong call to action to use your spare time to help solve some of problems facing individuals and families who are homeless as well as wider issues in the community.