Homelessness

A wake up moment

I had one of those “”wake-up” moments this morning. Those happenings that creep into your consciousness and jolt your reality.

I can’t help wonder if the number of homeless people in Melbourne is increasing. I don’t have any data or statistics, just my observations. Each month I see more and more people sleeping on the streets in the CBD.

There is a competition for space as the sheltered doorways are taken up quickly, forcing the latecomers to divide the footpath between themselves.

One gentleman appears to have set up in a window cavity near the corner of Collins and King Streets. He has his mattress wedged into the cavity so that only half of it encroaches onto the footpath. He uses the window frame above him, to store his household items such as toothbrush, books, groceries etc. He has been at this location for nearly a year. He is going nowhere.

It makes me feel guilty to come to a warm home every night, knowing that there is a sizeable number of people braving one of our coldest winters ever, out in the open.

What should I do? What can I do?

A number of respectable charities counsel against providing assistance to the homeless and beggars. They suggest that such help undermines their beneficent efforts. Is this correct?

Some people give money or buy groceries. I have seen many commuters kneeling before the homeless rifling through plastic bags of groceries, showing them what they had bought for them.

Our governments are indifferent to the plight of the homeless. Public policy. provides health services and education but accommodation is at the lower end of the list of priorities.

I have read and witnessed first hand that a number of homeless have mental health issues. I often wonder if these issues caused the homelessness or were caused by it.

This blog was inspired by something I saw this morning outside Flinders St Station. As I walked up Elizabeth St, having passed a number of people sleeping on the footpath beneath their sleeping bags, I saw a man holding a piece of cardboard with writing on it.

My first reaction was “”Yet another beggar……” But as I approached I noticed some inconsistencies. This man did not have a plate or hat at his feet to collect donations. This man was smartly dressed in a vest and suit. He was well groomed with his hair cut and face shaved.

I became curious.

As I approached I saw the message on the piece of cardboard. It read:

“”Many thanks to those of you who offered me coffee and help while I was homeless”

Go figure.

http://markjattard.com