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Working homeless: Work band-aid

Yousif Farah’s artwork produced at Creative Thursdays run at St Mungo’s Recovery College in Southwark. The session is led by art therapist Simon Richardson with help from artist Brian McClure. © Yousif Farah Yousif Farah’s artwork produced at Creative Thursdays run at St Mungo’s Recovery College in Southwark. The session is led by art therapist Simon Richardson with help from artist Brian McClure. © Yousif Farah
For the working homeless is your job an extra burden or a way out of homelessness, asks Yousif Farah


For the working homeless is your job an extra burden or a way out of homelessness?

A large proportion of homeless people are also working. If you search the internet or if you work in a sector pertinent to homelessness you are likely to come across endless stories of inspirational people who are carrying out their duties despite having no fixed abode, or who have triumphed against adversity and turned a grim existence into a fairy tale, such as Raynor Winn who wrote an uplifting book about walking 630 miles along the South West Coast, The Salt Path, after her home was taken away.

A recent Freedom of Information request obtained by Channel 4 Dispatches revealed that 55% of homeless families trapped in temporary accommodation are working. That is 33,000 families.

Homelessness in itself can be a very scary prospect. Especially if one has not experienced it before.

Having to keep a job while homeless makes life much tougher. It is stressful, and physically and emotionally exhausting, But working can also be a very rewarding experience, providing you with a sense of purpose and achievement, which will keep you going and make homelessness less of a daunting experience.

Being homeless can play with one’s mind and make it prone to feelings of low self-worth, so try not to fall into that trap. Use positive energy through prayers, meditation, socialising, reading and reflecting upon your struggle to achieve great things rather than put you off the task. Remember that homelessness is a temporary state of where you are, not a statement of who you are.

 

You can do it

 Many of us at the Pavement have experienced homelessness and have had to work or do voluntary work while homeless, including myself, writes Yousif Farah. Here are some tips for those who are working to help you maintain or find a job

1. If you are street homeless, maintaining cleanliness is a challenge, especially if you have to spend many nights outdoors and are in a job in which you are expected to be presentable and clean:
• It is an uncomfortable feeling to wake up in the middle of the park or under a bridge where there is no clean running water to wash your face or brush your teeth. Try to shelter in a place where there is a cafe nearby, so you can use their wash room.
• If you were registered at your local gym before becoming homeless, you can always go there to have a shower and maybe a quick exercise. Or join after becoming homeless.
• Can you strike a deal with friends to allow you to have a shower in their house, even if it means paying them some money or buying them a drink?
• Study your surroundings for mosques or churches which may be open at certain times and have shower rooms, or a place to wash.
• Check Services for bathrooms/showers (BS) and laundry (L)  on www.thepavement.org.uk
• Take good care of your feet.
 2. Learn how to manage your money and always have some money in your pocket. Save to buy a car or for a deposit on a flat.

3. Organisations providing support to homeless people seeking employment or education include:
• Recovery College is run by St Mungo’s but open to all, and offers a variety of free courses. Contact recoverycollege@mungos.org or 020 7902 7964.
• Shelter offers housing drop-ins, and can help you secure accommodation. They also have an employment team who will guide you through the process of finding a job. www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_help

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