The people closest to the problem are the people closest to the solutions.
This was the biggest take away I had from attending the Centre for Australian Progress, 2019 Progress event in Melbourne last month.
I took this message on as it’s something that I believe in but until then, hadn’t actioned that belief.
Homelessness is a major societal problem we have. One that I’m sure can be solved or at least, dramatically decreased. The systems, processes and circumstances that lead to homelessness is a societal problem. People without homes are the problem.
At the end of the 3-day event, I had around half a day that I could explore Melbourne as a tourist. After all, it was my first time there.
I’m very happy to have chosen to spend my time talking to a lovely woman named Angie. Angie has two sons going through university and a husband who was an ex-army serviceman.
Unfortunately, Angie fell on hard times and is now homeless, while nursing a broken leg I might add.
Angie spoke about her decision to live on the streets. She said she didn’t want to be a burden on her family, especially not her sons.
She talked about places like the Salvation Army that handed things out to people who are homeless. And that it ended up in the bin because they are transient and can’t carry them everywhere they go.
She talked about the lack of access to toilets or showers. That the river is quite polluted and a wash in there would leave you smelling worse than when you went in.
She talked about the lack of affordable shelter. Angie said there was an affordable homeless shelter nearby but… many people that find themselves in a homeless situation, including her, refuse to sleep there. The reason being because of the unsanitary conditions. That shelter was infested with cockroaches and bed-bugs.
Angie told me that she had stayed there twice. Each time she ended up in the hospital because of the bed-bugs. Saying it was safe and more hygienic to live on the streets.
Angie is a smart woman. She is thoughtful of others. And was kind enough to spend her time with me and share her stories.
Speaking with Angie and many more people close to different problems, has me absolutely convinced… The people closest to the problem, are the ones closest to the solutions.
Maybe the problem isn’t homelessness at all. Maybe our problem is our unwillingness to listen.
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