With the weather growing colder, it always makes me appreciate my warm bed, hot shower, a heater and warm clothes. But it also urges me to think of the people who don’t enjoy the same luxuries.
I am reminded of a time a few years back when I was in Auckland and saw hundreds of people across the city sleeping on shreds of cardboard. They owned nothing but the clothes on their back and a blanket.
That experience opened my eyes. It made me thankful for the things I had often taken for granted, but at the same time it broke my heart. I could only imagine what the life of one of those people must be like.
So often it is easy to pass such people and show no compassion.
Prior to that day, I had passed many homeless people on Melbourne’s streets and even in Shepparton, but my attitude towards them was that as humans we were all given the same opportunity called life and they had just landed themselves there by their own bad choices or laziness.
This can be the case, but in more recent years I have realised it is generally not the result of the individual’s choices. I have found more often than not it tends to be a result of someone’s upbringing, an unrolling of unfortunate events beyond the individual’s control — and for many in our area particularly, it can simply be the result of not being able to secure a rental property due to their lack of rental history.
But whether someone has become homeless as a result of their upbringing, through unfortunate circumstances, a lack of rental history or even their own bad choices ... they all deserve a chance.
As humans, we are all equal and we all experience feelings and emotions. If we were to put ourselves in the homeless person’s shoes, would we feel valued and important?
Homelessness is an issue in our community. The homeless may not be lining our streets, but they are around and there are far more of them than many of us realise.
Through recent conversation with various locals I speak on behalf of many from the community when I ask, why is there not more support for the homeless?
If we can spend millions of dollars on upgrading our already fully functioning roads, and on building a new art museum when we already have one, and on training doctors in the area, why aren’t we spending anything to provide the homeless with somewhere to live? Why are we improving good facilities when the homeless have no facilities at all?
Are buildings and facilities more important than the people of our community?
I think as a community we should be given the opportunity to have a say in where our money is going. Because I know I am not the only one who would love to see a large property loaded with self-contained units for those in need. To provide them with a place where they could feel safe, with comfortable beds to sleep in, with heaters and hot showers.
To show them they are equally important as any other human, to give them a hope for their future.
The positive outcomes are endless.
This is a large hole in our community and where there is a hole there lies great opportunity. I think Shepparton generally ‘‘does community’’ fairly well and this is just another chance for us to grow closer as a community and extend our helping hand to people who need our support.
Laura Briggs is a News journalist.