Homeless is a term that many of us do not like to dwell on. There is much stigma and misinformation about homelessness in the UK. There are a few who put forth a hand to help in the hour of need. The YMCA in Lincolnshire is one such group of people.
The facts are that people sleeping rough has gone up by 165% since 2010 and is now above 4500 every night. However, the picture is beginning to brighten, with a 2% drop between 2018 and 2018. The greatest upward trends can be found in the West Midlands, the North East, Yorkshire and Humber.
Clicking here will give you a copy of the 2018 rough sleeping analysis based on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government numbers released at the beginning of 2019.
The YMCA in Lincolnshire, led by Caroline Killeavy, have really made a difference to homeless people in their community.
The Nomad Centre
The new Nomad Centre, replaces the previous Nomad shelter on Monks Road in Lincoln. The new centre dramatically changes the provision and care that is offered. Despite the sincere and much valued work that has gone on for many years at the Nomad Shelter, the Centre is a significant step forward.
The new Nomad Centre boasts 20 en-suite rooms. the rooms are not huge, but are clean, bright and secure. They bring a sense of dignity to the care that is given, and give a much needed feeling of safety to those who use them.
Alongside the rooms there are 2 new hostel rooms, a professional kitchen, day centre facilities, and most importantly 24/7 access for residents – all much needed upgrades from the previous offer to those sleeping rough.
It was my pleasure to document the opening of this remarkable provision. I was particularly struck by the way in which attitudes towards the homeless have changed, and are changing in Lincoln. This work is only the tip of the iceberg, but I was moved by members of the community, describing in such a positive way, the future for people without a home.
The new centre support people without homes. People forced to sleep rough, perhaps with complex difficult backgrounds who may have suffered from abuse, addiction or have fallen on hard times.
The demand for for homelessness services in Lincolnshire is extremely high, with street homelessness in Lincoln three times higher now than it was in 2010.
Change Of Attitude Towards The Homeless
In his speech Ian Sackree, Chair of YMCA Lincs, highlighted to us the desperate conditions that people find themselves in. How the behaviour of people in such need can often be misinterpreted and pigeon-holed without true compassion and understanding.
One example he gave was of a person only owning 3 objects. Nothing more. If someone else tried to take one of those 3, it is understandable that they would fight tooth and nail to keep hold of them.
It made me reflect on all that I had. Not only my belongings, but my wife and children, happy home, relationships and opportunities. How would I react if it were all taken from me? How would you?
Allen Gibson, representing Tesco, relayed to me how he had visited the previous Nomad Shelter. Filled with emotion he came away determined to make a difference. Not just in raising money to provide the new Centre, but to change people’s attitude to the homeless.
VIP Opening of the Centre for Homeless In Lincoln
The Centre was opened by Toby Dennis, Lord-Lieutenant, Susan Burke, The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Lincoln, The Rev Canon John Patrick, Ian Sackree, and Caroline Killeavy.
It was impressive to see the great and good from the community supporting the Centre. Equally moving was the support of those who had stayed at the previous Shelter, those who had come through the system and now were establishing themselves in society.
Tomorrow looks a little brighter in Lincoln for those in desperate need of somewhere to lay their head. There is now a place where the lonely and forgotten can find a warm meal, a bed, safety and privacy.
Perhaps next time we walk passed someone on the street without a home we will stop and show our care too.