In the UK there are over 320,000 homeless people. In the last 18 months, nearly 800 people have died on our streets. The average life-span of a homeless person is just 47 years, but many don’t even make it that far.
Kristan Olsteins was an aspiring musician, who moved to the UK from Lithuania. He died at 22 in hospital following heart surgery, with gangrene, blood clots and a heroin addiction. A result of 3 years on the streets. Kane Walker aged 31, was found dead in the freezing temperatures in Birmingham. He was forced to sleep rough after suffering under the introduction of the bedroom tax.
We’re facing a crisis but we’re too slow to respond. Currently, 1.7 million people are waiting for social housing. In London, one in every 59 people are homeless. Welfare cuts and soaring house prices leave whole families on the streets. Our society is now more polarised by housing wealth than at any time since the Victorian era – an era that believed electrotherapy could cure illnesses and orgasms could help hysterical women. Since then our society has been through two wars, actual World Wars, and still managed to take better care of its people than we are today.
The Vagrancy Act of 1824 makes it a crime to beg or sleep rough in Britain. You’d think a law, so old and out of date could never govern modern people. It was applied 3000 times in 2016 and those convicted faced fines of up to £1000. Those who have nowhere to go and nothing to offer, were charged 4 figure fines.
End Youth Homelessness helps increase awareness and deliver essential services to young people each year. Over 103,000 16 – 25 year olds reached out to their local authorities last year because they were at risk of becoming, or already were homeless. When young people find themselves homeless, they often suffer from poor education, lack of a support network and independence, making it a difficult cycle to break. EYH works to help young people overcome these barriers.
We’ve collaborated with artist Peter Evans to help build further awareness of homelessness by using a piece from his scratch card series to represent a feeling of hope and despair. From each sale of the product, 25% of the profits will be donated to End Youth Homelessness, who provide short and long term solutions to those on the streets, helping people find their way out of homelessness and prevent those at risk from returning.