WHAT YOU CAN DO
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
It may feel like a problem that’s too big to solve but in fact there are
many things you can do to help end homelessness and help homeless people.
Giving of your time, resources and money is one of the easiest ways to help. Agencies, charities and grassroots groups are always in need of donations of clothing, especially in the winter when coats, boots, socks, hats and gloves are critical to staying alive. New thermal underwear and good quality socks are always appreciated.
You can donate cash to a charity like Just Socks (justsocks.ca) that distributes new socks to homeless youth, adults and marginally housed individuals. The donations allow the group to purchase socks in bulk at a discounted rate. As of 2020, they had distributed just under 400,000 pairs of socks.
Contact your local shelters and see what they most need. For some, it may be household items like dishes and bedding for when a homeless person is moved into housing. Although donating cell phones, tablets and phone cards may seem exorbitant, those who work with homeless people say they’re an important lifeline that helps them stay in touch with family and friends. They can also seek essential services, like income support and telehealth.
Those not in the vulnerable age groups or who don’t have underlying health conditions can consider donating their time to help agencies with food preparation, resource distribution and telephone support.
Groups like Out of the Cold, which operate out of church basements and provide meals and shelter to hundreds of homeless people every night, rely on volunteers to operate. Cash donations are especially appreciated by agencies as many have seen their huge cost increases due to having to buy sanitizer and masks.
Homelessness exists because of the lack of political will. Period. We know how to solve it but change will only happen when a loud chorus of voices rises up and makes themselves heard.
Donations are important but many say fighting for change is even more important as it could lead to permanent change. Making change means contacting people who are in decision-making roles and that means your MP, MPP, city councillors and Mayor.
Start a letter-writing campaign and tell them homelessness is a national crisis and that it’s unacceptable that 35,000 people are homeless on any given night in this country.
Describe what homelessness looks like in your community and tell them about Medicine Hat, Alberta, which ended homelessness and in doing so, showed other cities it was possible.
In addition to writing to your politicians, write letters to the editor and engage with civic and faith groups in a call to action. Find out which political party has a plan in place to support homeless people and campaign for them or organize protests to make a public appeal for change.
Educate yourself through groups like the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (CAEH) which has been fighting to end homelessness for years and is an excellent source for statistics and policies.
List of Members of Parliament: https://www.ourcommons.ca/en/contact-us
(You don’t need postage if you send a letter to your MP on Parliament Hill)