Winter is here: Tallinn, Estonia: -16° C; Beijing, China: -2° C; Chicago, USA: -12° C; …
As the temperatures plummet below freezing across the northern hemisphere, we tuck ourselves a little bit tighter into our warming winter coats. We put on that extra pair of socks, make sure we don’t forget our scarf or the woolen hat we got for Christmas. And then, when we get back home, we quickly prepare a hot tea and gladly snuggle up under a cozy blanket.
It’s these little things that make the cold bearable; that let us enjoy the snow, the frozen lakes and even the biting wind that makes our cheeks and noses glow.
But what about the people that don’t have the luxury of these little comforts? Those that don’t have a pair of warm shoes. Those that have no choice but to warm up their frozen hands at a make-shift dumpster fire. Those that try to survive the night in the little dry spot they found in a derelict building.
The scale of street homelessness is shattering. In the UK, “an estimated 4,751 people bedded down outside in 2017, but charities say the official statistics fail to capture the true level of street homelessness.” (The Guardian)
In New York, “there were 63,636 homeless people, including 15,580 homeless families with 23,065 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system” in November 2018 (Basic Facts About Homelessness: New York City).
And in Paris, the first « Nuit de la solidarité » found that nearly 3,000 people were sleeping rough in the city in the night of the 15th to 16th of February 2018 (Aleteia) with the real figure likely much higher.
These numbers show us how urgently needed the work of the Vincentian Family truly is. They make us appreciate the tireless efforts of its members all across the world. In London (United Kingdom), The Passage goes above and beyond to make sure that homeless people receive all they need, that they have a warm and welcoming place to come to. In Kyiv (Ukraine), Depaul opened an emergency shelter for homeless people within a couple of weeks’ notice and at the request of local authorities as the sheer scale of need was just so grave. And in the USA, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides 2,998 emergency shelters in 10 different states (SVdP USA Housing Report).
But what more can be done to help the poorest of the poor amongst us? How can we make sure that they won’t be in the same situation again next winter? What can we do to change their lives in the long-term?
Do you have ideas of how you could help homeless people in your community? Or do you already have a project but would like to do more? If your answer is Yes, why not get involved in the 13 Houses Campaign?
The 13 Houses Campaign is a Famvin Homeless Alliance initiative and aims to improve and transform the lives of 10,000 homeless people around the world in 3-5 years from 2018. More than that, we want to see 13 Houses projects in each of the 156 countries where the Vincentian Family works!
We are ambitious for the poorest – because St Vincent taught us to be!