Homelessness isn’t just something for somebody else to think about - it is within our communities and could affect us all.
That was the message at the latest Thinking Session, held at the Heneage Arms in Hainton recently.
It was an evening of music, poetry, social comment and discussion, packed with statistical data and personal testimony, on the complex issue of homelessness.
Bob Tubman, one of the organising group, said: “One of the most shocking statistics was the revelation of the life expectancy of people living on the streets – officially termed ‘rough sleepers’ - who die on average at 47 years old, while for the one in eight who are women, the average age is just 43.”
He continued: “It is also a sombre thought that 45% of homeless people have a diagnosed mental health issue.”
The Thinking Session crowd also learnt about ‘statutory homelessness’ and the ‘hidden homeless’, whose numbers are ever-increasing.
A lack of housing, high rents and the instability of short-term tenancy play a big part, but there are many more contributory factors.
Mr Tubman said; “The discussion highlighted the need to avoid ‘otherising’ homeless as ‘people not like us’ and to find ways to push the issue up the political agenda.”
The session, which was organised by the Witham branch of the Labour Party, but open to all, also raised £166, which will be donated to Shelter, the housing and homeless charity.
Mr Tubman added: “Thank you to all the participants, particularly our creative writer and director, Sarah Paul, all the participants and the audience who found it a rewarding experience.”
The Thinking Sessions planning group is looking to other sessions covering topics such as Telling Tales- a present day reworking of the Canterbury Tales, Quakerism and social justice, art in public places, how safe is the water you drink, philosophy and much more besides.
The next session, on March 29 in the Hope Tavern at Holton le Moor, will see Norman Palmer present ‘The Physics you didn’t do at school’.