Growing up, we were taught about the three basic needs: Food, shelter and clothing. This has evolved over time to include water (which should really be obvious) and in some parts of the world, electricity and an internet connection (who would have thought!). I want to focus on one of those basic needs. Shelter. One of the things that COVID-19 which has been deemed by the World Health Organisation a global pandemic has done is that it has shown us just how incredibly unequal and fragile our society is. There have been people who were able to stockpile food. So much food that the supermarket shelves were empty. Some of the stockpiled food, in several places, was actually thrown in the garbage because it was more than enough and in many instances, perishable and spoiled after only a week. There were people who were able to buy rolls upon rolls of toilet paper. Why? Who knows?
When the time came, gradually as it has in different parts of the world to lock-down cities, regions, and even whole countries, most people had a home to go to. With all the food, water and toilet paper they needed for the period of the lock-down. However, there are those who do not have that place to go to. There are those who do not have money to buy food for the day, much less for a 3-week lock-down. There are millions of people around the world who are homeless. Homeless and at a high risk of contracting the virus. They will contract the virus and will not have any recourse to healthcare, employment or compensation – no welfare safety net.
According to Yale Global, an estimated 2% of the world’s population may be homeless. Another 20% lacks adequate housing. As the virus spreads and people have been forced into self-isolation and countries have been placed into nationwide lock-downs, these are individuals who will not have a safe place they can lock themselves down and prevent themselves from contracting the virus.
Nobody wants to be homeless. Circumstances, often beyond the control of the individuals, land them in the position they are in. These circumstances are not a reserve of a certain type, class or group of people. They could befall anyone. There are homeless people out there with university degrees, with work experiences that could rival anyone. But they do not have a home. The society we live in has completely stigmatised homelessness as self-inflicted and consider the homeless to be hopeless and useless and not deserving of our time or assistance, forgetting that the fate they are looking down upon could very well be their own.
Bradley is one such person. A 39 years old, who worked as a Non-Destructive Testing Inspector for 18 years in Radford, Virginia. Through a series of unfortunate events, he lost his job, lost his home, attempted to commit suicide, was arrested and incarcerated, lost his step-dad while he was in prison, was released with just the clothes on his back and nothing else. No family or friends and no where to go.
To Our House program by the New River Community Action provides winter shelter for homeless people. Bradley was assisted by the program which unfortunately comes to an end on Friday 10 April 2020 after which, he will have no place to stay, he will have no job due to the restrictions that are in place from the US lock-downs in progress, and he will be ‘locked’ out at the risk of contracting the virus with no recourse. He will not have food or shelter. He has not had access to medication that is vital to his mental health for over 7 days.
Bradley is bright, with a great sense of humour. He can draw, he writes amazing poetry. He does have a future…but the calamity of circumstances we spoke about earlier, circumstances that could befall anyone reading this, have made it such that he has nothing and needs your help.
So, this is a plea, on Bradley’s behalf for your help. Click the button below to give to his fundraiser and follow him on Twitter for his art and poetry…or simply to urge him to keep going strong.
He is one of many people who need assistance. Many people who need a roof over their heads. He is one of many people who did not wish for their current living conditions, but they are in it. Something has got to be done. I believe that if governments can spend billions of dollars bailing out corporations, they can spend a fraction of that considering the needs of the homeless. I believe that if individuals can give billions of dollars to renovate a church, they can give a fraction of that to shelter individuals who do not have a home.
I am not trying to belittle anything. All I am saying is that we should all put ourselves in the shoes of the homeless. Shoes that we may very well be in. Think of our fellow human beings and empathise with their situation. Instead of looking down upon them, if you can, help them. Speak to your leaders and try and find solutions to the problem.
Because if there is one thing that the COVID-19 has shown us, it is that every single one of us is vulnerable.
We all need each other.
This might be considered by most a naïve thought, but I believe that humanity is inherently good.
Let us be compassionate.