Night #1 is over!
This morning, I had a chance to pop by and say hi to this year’s Five Days for the Homeless participants. I asked them how their first night went.
They talked about feeling the cold snow hit their tarp, and just being thankful that they had a way to cover their faces.
They talked about how much it snowed last week, and how they could only imagine the impact that would have had on our city’s homeless.
They talked about someone bringing them muffins, and the guilt that they felt in accepting food when they know that not everyone on the street is that lucky.
I am so glad that we have these passionate and understanding people heading up this year’s campaign. They are stepping out of their comfort zone to stay outside for these 5 days, but they know that their experience this week won’t even begin to compare to the experiences faced by so many in our community.
Five Days for the Homeless is important, not just because of the money it raises, but because of the awareness it raises surrounding this very real and very pressing issue in our community. For many of us, it is difficult to imagine a life without a home. Our homes are where we go to lay our heads at night. We invite our friends into our homes to socialize. Our homes shelter us from the cold, rain, and snow. They store our belongings and our memories. They give us an address, that we can list on our identification and health cards. Our homes help to give us humanity.
It is often said that a person’s home is the extension of who they are. Depriving a person of a home is depriving them from a piece of their own identity.
In 2015, a point in time count was conducted in Regina to determine how many of our own were living without a place to call home. There were 232 total people found on the night of the count. 232 people, just like you and I, living their lives without the safety, comfort, or security of four walls. While this number is alarming on it’s own, this does not even begin to capture the whole picture. It doesn’t consider the countless individuals forced to couch surf, stay with friends and family, or hide out in abandoned shelters. The problem of hidden homelessness is an extremely prevalent one in our community, especially due to the frigid cold temperatures we see here in Saskatchewan. According to Statistics Canada, 8% of Canadians surveyed in 2014 reported experiencing hidden homelessness at some point in their lives. This number is a reminder that being off the streets and “hidden” from the public eye is not the same as being in a home.
We are excited and proud of the University of Regina students for dedicating so much time and energy to this campaign, and to this important cause. We can only hope that, one day, homelessness will be a thing of the past, and campaign’s like these can disappear.
Together, we can end poverty and homelessness in our community.