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A letter to a former service user on World Homeless Day

BASW England PO Gavin Moorghen uses his own experience to highlight homelessness

It’s been 15 years since we first met. I remember how worried your midwife was when she referred you. You were pregnant, street homeless and dependent on drugs.

There were few positives in your life, how could you be a parent? That said, by the time we met you’d moved to a hostel.

It wasn’t brilliant. You were surrounded by drug use and in a tiny room. I remember you telling me that as a child you were passed from one home to another after your mother was imprisoned for killing her violent partner.

Homelessness had become your normality.

I could see you wanted a better life. You accessed the seamless support from homelessness, drugs and social work services and I feel as strongly now as I did then that the credit for change came from you.

You prepared and excelled at parenthood and your baby got a great start in life. Later you became an advocate for others who had had a similar experience.

Sadly homeless rates have risen. This includes the thousands of children who are in temporary substandard accommodation.

Covid-19 has paradoxically seen some positive steps to house homeless people. But if the last decade has told us anything it is that things can quickly change, often not for the better.

M, if you are reading this I would like to know what you would do if you were in charge. What do you feel worked best for you and what do you see as the true solution?

With World Homelessness Day approaching we should ask how to stop unplanned homelessness. It would take a drastic rethink, it should be sustainable and holistic. But most of all, at its heart it needs to put people first.

All the best on World Homelessness Day - 10th October 2020