What would it be like if one day everyone ignored you or even went out of their way to avoid you? How would that feel?

Many of the people we work with tell us that on a daily basis, hours can go by without a single person acknowledging their presence.   

As pedestrians pass them, they pull their daughters and sons away. Some spit on them. It’s no surprise that after some time, people experiencing homelessness begin to feel dehumanised, marginalised and simply not part of society.

Of course, many of us dislike making eye contact and don’t wish to engage with strangers. But the purpose of eye contact - when appropriate and safe - isn’t to make anyone feel ill at ease. It’s for someone to acknowledge that the other person exists.

When we engage with someone, even in the most elementary way such as making eye contact, we acknowledge our shared humanity. With that encounter, we create a moment of acceptance and presence for the other — a simple act of love and recognition.

On Human Rights Day (10 December), we kindly ask each one of you to acknowledge that every person living on the streets is a human being, just like you and me. That person is equal to yourself, and deserving of the same peace and security you enjoy.

It’s incredible how far a simple acknowledgment of another person’s presence can go towards helping that person feel like they matter.

Together on Human Rights Day, and each and every day, we can give and receive love, acceptance, humanity, and presence in each other’s eyes.

Providence Row is a charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 07452798 and registered charity number 1140192. Its registered office is at The Dellow Centre, 82 Wentworth Street, London, E1 7SA.
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