What does a home mean to you? It’s a question to which we can all relate. Each one of us has grown up somewhere.
Whether our spaces are big or basic, humble or extravagant, they are our shelters and our sanctuaries.
Home is part of our self-definition. It’s human nature to want to have a place to belong.
For the people we work with, the question of home is an emotive and painful issue. Many of our clients have spent years without a home, living on the streets, or in and out of shelters, relying on hand-outs and luck to survive.
Not being able to have access to a safe and stable place is a living nightmare. First and foremost, you are bereft of security, recovery, peace and comfort. You are at greater risk of being assaulted, of having your property stolen and suffering from poor mental and physical health. In addition, if you have problems with drug or alcohol addiction, these will be even harder to deal with.
We wanted to mark World Homeless Day and Homeless Action Week by asking our clients to share with us the many ways in which they think of ‘home’. We asked them to note the first thought that comes to mind when they think of “what a home means to me”.
The responses were thought-provoking and deeply moving. We thought we would share some of them with you as we wish to raise awareness of this devastating and pressing issue. To protect the identities of the respondents, we have kept the responses anonymous.
“When I got my own place, it meant that I could start thinking about the future rather than the past, or rather than just what’s going to happen today.”
“Once when I was walking from school with a friend, he asked me where I lived. The shelter looked like a big and old, fancy house. So I pointed to it and said, ‘that’s my house,”. I was too ashamed to tell him the truth."
"Having been homeless for 2 years, having a home today is extra special to me. A place to rest my mind, my body and my soul. It's a place of love and laughter. My home is my safe place and my haven."
“Just because I am homeless, I haven’t forgotten where I came from.”
"A home means stability. Growing up, my parents never had their own place. We went from place to place. One had no bathroom. The windows were missing and there were holes in them.”
“A loving and caring environment.”
There are many things, big and small, that we take for granted because they are simply there. On Homeless Action Week and World Homeless Day, we are reminded that a home is a fundamental human right.
Everyone has a fundamental human right to housing, which ensures access to a safe, secure, habitable, and affordable home with freedom from forced eviction.
This week, we pause and reflect and show gratitude for having a roof over our head, which ultimately means stability, comfort, security and peace and so many other things.