This post by Green Wood Outreach Worker, David Sheffield, earlier this week reflects the frustration of meeting people who have fallen through the cracks in our community, and are most at risk. This conversation that has started, we hope, will lead to some people who have been forced outside, coming indoors.
This cat and it's owner are homeless in Northumberland at the moment. The cat is staying at a shelter that provides food, water, support and a comfortable bed. The human is 'sleeping rough'* in our community, having been disqualified from receiving any sort of emergency shelter.
While I was making calls and visiting police stations on behalf of this person today, I was approached by another individual, also disqualified from any form of emergency shelter, also 'sleeping rough' in our community.
Incidentally, there is no appeal process if one is disqualified shelter.
I know it's summer and these people are not likely to die overnight (unlike the individuals I wrote about in February), but where is the justice, the compassion for our neighbours. And I have to ask, "will this problem be solved before winter?"
Northumberland is proud of it's reputation as a friendly, safe, caring community. But I have to question the press release when I encounter individuals who ( in spite of their being disabled, poor, injured, bullied, abused and pushed aside) are being treated as if they were criminals.
A measure of a community's values is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
Northumberland County, your grades are low today!
I'm glad that the pets are finding shelter, but when will the same concern extend to humans in our community.
'Sleeping rough' is the most extreme form of homelessness. It means living on the street or in alleys, beside garbage bins, in public spaces, sheltered over heating ducts or in any other place not meant for human habitation. It is usually a last resort for homeless people.