Charity- The only thing we can give away without losing it.* H. Smith
Birmingham is ranked 22nd in the nation for the worst level of homelessness, with over 15,500 people sleeping on the streets or in temporary housing. That makes it about 1 in 75 people. This will not just be individuals but families who have been forced from their home or unable to find a permanent residency in the current penury of affordable housing.
In our city in 2018, there were 23 deaths (recorded) from those living on the street or in emergency shelters, making it the highest in any local authority in England and Wales.
The average life expectancy is halved compared to the general population, and the rate of suicide is 9 times higher. Those suffering from mental health issues is over 2 times higher.
Two of the main causes are lack of affordable housing, and relationship breakdown (including domestic abuse and violence). This though is only really the tip of the iceberg. The reasons for homelessness will be both many and complex and though newspapers frequently focus on drugs, this is often as not a symptom rather than a cause.
It is worth thinking then that these figures almost never include those people who are fortunate enough to have family and friend who will take them in and give them charity through their very difficult times. In fact you are very likely to know of or have helped to prevent someone you love from becoming homeless.
We will soon be adding some of the personal stories of people that have been made homeless in Birmingham to this section. So please do keep coming back.