In March this year I undertook a sponsored ‘sleep out’ with ‘Alabare’. As I wrapped my sleeping bag around me and looked up at the vaults of the Cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral, warm, dry and safe with only the breath of a cold breeze across my face I reflected how privileged I was sleeping in the shadow of such an iconic building. This was far from the underpass in the middle of Salisbury where people sleep out every day of the year exposed to the cold wind and the hostility of people who frequently urinate upon them. It was also far from the images we see daily on our televisions of people crammed into unseaworthy boats on the Mediterranean Sea by people smugglers against whom the EU has launched an operation to destroy their business model.
Raising money for the homeless or destroying an immoral business model may stop the immediate problem but better that we address the underlying causes of homelessness and what motives someone to risk their lives to leave their home.
Steve Hilton has just published a book called More Human, Designing a World where People come First. On Radio 4’ Start the Week’ he talked about how in a world of big government we have lost the world of the individual and he argues that inequalities can only be overcome when we understand the individual and what causes poverty in their lives – this he sees as becoming more human. However, to overcome the complex problems which lead to people risking their lives on a boat in the Mediterranean is likely to require concerted international co-operation. Let us hope that individuals are willing to make this possible – that is also being human!
Alabare is a charity working with vulnerable and marginalised people in Salisbury, to support them towards gaining the independence they need to move on with their lives