Surviving without shelter: Exeter’s homelessness problem continues
Kevin Yu examines how we can aid the homelessness problem in Exeter amidst Covid-19
The rapid manifestation of coronavirus/COVID-19 has shaken the whole planet, including Exeter, with WHO recently confirming its pandemic status. As a result, much of society is preparing to be housebound, from (in-advisably) stock-piling loo roll, to integrating Skype chats for work. However, there are still many left sleeping on the streets, who face the most perilous situation, against this highly contagious disease.
Exeter’s homelessness problem is there for everyone to see, with latest figures finding 31 people without a home in a count in 2019; up by 14 from 2018. With 13 passing away on the streets last year, you could imagine the substantial risk that COVID-19 poses to those still surviving, who are unable to self-isolate, open to coughs/sneezes from passers-by, and highly malnourished.
We as a university should play more of a part for helping the homeless
Whilst the city council have been taking this issue more seriously, in recent times, an increasing burden is instead being placed on local charities, such as St. Petrocks, who have seen a 15% increase in service users, across 2019. Although it is encouraging that more people are becoming aware of the fantastic services and projects that these charities offer, the rapid spike in demand may be hard for these charities to sustain in the long term.
Therefore, I feel that we as a university should play more of a part for helping the homeless, alongside these local initiatives.
So how can we help?
There are many ways that Exeter students can help. These include:
- Being involved with Exeter University’s YMCA society
- Supporting student/university initiatives for the homeless: an example of this is Food Action (a project where extra food from outlets, such as Pret a Manger in Forum, are supplied to homeless shelters)
- Donating unused and long-lasting food to food-banks within supermarkets
- Donate to and/or volunteer for charities, such as Julian’s House and St Petrocks
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