I’m surprised I’ve not thought of this sooner. It could possibly work the world over actually, not just the UK, but as a proud Brit, I’m naturally going to focus more on my place of birth. There’s a McDonalds near where my other half grew up, and after the temperatures plummeted to -10C in some parts of the country, they opened their doors to the homeless and vulnerable, so they had a warm, dry and safe place to be during the night.
They didn’t turn it into a refuge (per se), but they opened their doors at night fall to anyone who needed to come in from the cold. Now this is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be better if the government could actually strike up a deal with 24 hour fast food places? Stationing social workers in the restaurants so they can offer help, support and guidance to those that need it most?
I would have to look at one of the restaurants books to know the exact profit vs loss, but, if they can sell a Medium Double Cheeseburger Meal with a Hot drink for £3.99 and still make a decent profit, surely the government, as they do have a duty of care, can do deals. Such as, if you want to get a free meal, and you are homeless, you have to show willing and speak with social workers who will in turn try to sort out the predicament.
There are also Pubs, a lot of them even have rooms, complete with either shared showers or en-suites. Open these up. The licensing laws in the UK allow for any venue to be open 24hours, though the sale of alcohol is quite often denied in problem areas.
Opening the pubs up, offering the landlords compensation for their time and produce, and also offering those that truly want help a place to go and speak to someone in the know, while also being able to get a basic sandwich and possibly even a room could make all the difference, and in a lot of cases, can be the difference between life and death.
Of course, there would have to be stringent rules in place, such as no Alcohol, no Drugs, no Fighting etc. But I understand we don’t live in a utopia, and there will always be those that don’t want help. But the vast majority, especially the newly homeless since the financial crash, will appreciate any help to get them back on their feet and into a steady life. They could even end up being employees of the places that open their doors to them.
Just think about it, when your pride has hit such a rock bottom place, and their feels like there is no way out, that helping hand and nudge can really drive and motivate someone to get back on their own two feet and hopefully pay it forward in the future.