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Appeal launched to give the homeless shelter for winter

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In need of support: a homeless person sleeps in Hamilton’s Victoria Park (File photograph)

More than 50 homeless people live rough on the streets – including some who have college educations and hold down jobs, a new charity has said.

Now the group – home – has launched a fundraising campaign to help get the island’s homeless into shelter during the winter months.

Organisers said the campaign – Help Bring Our Rough Sleepers Inside For Winter – planned to raise $50,000 to get shelter for 50 homeless people that home had identified and supported since it started in September.

The group said 30 people slept rough in Hamilton every night and another 20 were spread across the island.

A spokeswoman for home said it planned to provide shelter and care for rough sleepers from now until at least the end of April 2022.

She added: “This is a significant undertaking and home is appealing to the public to contribute to a portion of the costs associated with this.

“Home is seeking $50,000 to support the provision of accommodation, emergency and other care, food, clothing, medical and dental care and medicines as well as other essential items.

“One hundred per cent of donations received will be spent on these items with no funds being directed to the operations of home or for any other purpose.”

Denise Carey, the charity’s executive director, said: “Homelessness is a key measure of health inequality, with rough sleeping the most extreme and damaging to health.

“We are appealing to the public at large to help to ease the pain and suffering of a very vulnerable part of our community during this winter.

“This stopgap measure will allow us to provide care where it is needed most now and continue to make progress against our overall purpose of ending homelessness.”

Ms Carey added: “Over the last four months, I have met some of the most amazing souls and they have a lot to teach about humanity, forgiveness, patience, and how to keep it moving.

“Rough sleepers are worthy of all our love and deserve our support. They have been through enough. They shouldn't feel penalised by society for falling on hard times, but they do.”

“They want people to listen to them and allow them opportunity to contribute to society. After all, they live here too.

“They advocate for themselves and understand people need somewhere safe so they can start to rebuild their lives and they understand that they need more jobs and opportunities for them to get stable outcomes.”

Ms Carey told the public: “If you see a rough sleeper's hand stretched out, it is not for a handout – it's so you can grab it and help them to stand up.

“It is time to bring our rough sleepers in and give them opportunity to repair their broken hearts. They deserve it.”

The organisation has spent months gathering information on the homeless population.

The 50 people it is working with is made up of 44 men and six women.

The group said it believed the number of rough sleepers on the island was higher than 50, but not significantly so.

The charity has found there are 20 homeless people aged over 60 and three aged 79.

Two are terminally ill, but with no access to healthcare, and three have had strokes.

Five homeless people have had technical training, six are college-educated and four are in full-time employment.

All rough sleepers report being hungry often, with many surviving on one meal or less a day.

International statistics suggest rough sleepers have low life expectancies – 47 for men and 43 for women.

The charity said there were many causes of homelessness, including poverty, inequality, a lack of affordable housing, unemployment and a lack of access to social services.

Individual factors included mental health problems, abuse and neglect, addiction and relationship breakdowns.

The spokeswoman said: “Our data shows that for the 50 rough sleepers being case managed, the vast majority are rough sleepers for the following three reasons – housing supply and affordability, including eviction for landlord's family, an inability to pay rent and a breakdown in the relationship with landlord, unemployment and relationship breakdowns such as divorce, death, conflict or abuse.”

Arthur Wightman, the Bermuda head of professional services firm PwC and chairman of home, said: “In starting home, we were acutely aware that our most vulnerable have the quietest voices and lowest chances of living the lives that every human deserves.

“We want to change that – not simply to house them or feed them – but to ensure that they are loved, wanted and that our community is looking out for them.

“This is an incredible way for our community at large to demonstrate that.”

Tinee Furbert, the minister of social development and seniors, backed the charity.

She said: “We have struck up a very productive collaboration with home and are working side-by-side to bring meaningful and sustainable responses to this vulnerable group.

“This collaboration includes our combined focus on delivering an end to homelessness.”

How to help

Home is looking to raise at least $50,000 this month.

Anyone who wants to donate should phone or WhatsApp Denise Carey on 599-9933 or e-mail denise@home.bm.

People who need help for homelessness should contact Ms Carey using the same details or WhatsApp or e-mail Aaron Williams on 599-9934 or aaron@home.bm.

Anyone who knows a rough sleeper and wants to identify their location so that a home case manager can meet them should also contact Ms Carey or Mr Williams.

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Published December 08, 2021 at 7:49 am (Updated December 07, 2021 at 9:45 pm)

Appeal launched to give the homeless shelter for winter

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