There’s been a lot of backlash against Suella Braverman’s recent comments on homelessness. The home secretary said many people are living on the streets as a “lifestyle choice” and that rough sleepers shouldn’t be allowed to pitch tents in public spaces. She even went so far as to threaten charities with fines if they give out free tents to those with nowhere to call home.

Many people, including me, are understandably angry about the remarks and proposed new legislation. However, I’m not going to discuss why the proposals and lack of humanity are a new low for the government.

Instead, I want to focus on what I think can be a positive to come from this situation. Charity fundraising is easier when there’s a strong emotional connection to the cause. In this case, Braverman has cast herself as the villain of the piece, and as much as I found her comments disgusting, they could actually galvanise support for homeless charities.

  • Subsequent press coverage has highlighted the rise in homelessness in the UK since the pandemic and the reasons behind it
  • Treating those on the streets like they somehow don’t deserve a basic need such as shelter has sickened many people
  • There’s now a feeling of unity and purpose around rallying against a government that doesn’t seem to care

There are many ways your charity can capitalise on an issue being talked about in the mainstream news, including:

The average age of death for people experiencing homelessness is just 45 for men and 43 for women. We’re now in winter, so it’s more important than ever people have some form of protection from the elements. Of course, nobody should have to live in a tent on the streets, but there’s a huge affordable housing issue that will take generations to put right.

We’re also in a cost-of-living crisis, which is impacting donations for the charities that are best placed to help get people into safe accommodation and provide the relevant support.

So, what can we all do to help when giving money isn’t an option?

  • Write to your local MP about the housing situation 
  • Sign official petitions you see online, such as this one
  • Share and comment on social media to drive more awareness
  • Contact local homeless charities to volunteer

Trying to tackle significant societal issues like homelessness can feel futile as one voice on the internet. We have to do something, though.

In addition to the above, we can also change people’s perceptions. I didn’t always feel this way about homelessness because I didn’t fully understand the issues when I was younger. Volunteering for a homeless organisation changed my life and was the reason I started my business.

The solutions already exist. For example, Helsinki’s Housing First approach is working.

If our government of the day can’t do what’s required, it’s up to all of us to make whatever positive difference we can.

Connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on charity fundraising and psychology.