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7 November, 2023
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Homelessness is not a ‘lifestyle choice’

Over the weekend the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, made a statement suggesting that homelessness is a “lifestyle choice”.

This is not only misguided but also deeply concerning. As a charity committed to supporting those who find themselves without a safe place to call home, we couldn’t disagree more.

The reality of homelessness is far from a choice, but a tragic consequence of social, economic and personal circumstances. People experiencing homelessness have often faced a series of events including job loss, family breakdowns, mental health issues and other challenging life situations. Things that happen to all of us, and without the right safety nets in place, can lead to losing your home.

It’s a path fraught with dangers, where people frequently experience violence and abuse, resulting in significant physical and mental health consequences. The statistics are grim, with the average age of death for people experiencing homelessness being just 45 for men and 43 for women. This is not a life that anyone willingly chooses.

We stand united as one of 15 homelessness charities who expressed grave concerns in a letter to the Home Secretary, urging a reconsideration of her stance. In our letter, we emphasised the dangerous implications of criminalising the use of tents by people sleeping rough. We have highlighted the very real risk to life that these measures present, pushing individuals further into destitution and at increased risk of exploitation. This move will, quite simply, lead to a tragic increase in preventable deaths.

It is not a lifestyle choice but a societal issue that requires empathy, compassion, and a commitment to providing meaningful support for those who find themselves without a home. By providing safe shelter, mental health services and pathways to employment, we can help people move on from homelessness and rebuild their lives.

Let’s work together to prevent more needless suffering and deaths, and end homelessness for good.

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