Illustration by Hannah Robinson
When starting at University, there are so many aspects of life to acclimatise to; a new city, new accommodation, new friends – but something that I have never been able to get used to in Edinburgh is the sheer number of people experiencing homelessness on our doorstep. Yes, in London the problem is of an invariable scale, but the size of Edinburgh condenses the gravity of the crisis into a visible daily reality.
Everyday, the same people are begging on the street and enduring the elements that Edinburgh blows at them. When I started my courses, I quickly became conscious of the time we as students often have on our hands and became determined to put it towards helping a social cause I care a lot about.
Having volunteered with ‘Heat for the Homeless Edinburgh’ (a great student group that hands out hot water bottles and involves cafes in the initiative to refill them), I realised how hopeless I felt in my inability to help those sleeping rough. Despite the gravity of the issue, there was not an outlet through which students could engage with the crisis. Speaking to peers, their enthusiasm to help inspired me to form a society through which they could do just that.
‘More Hope For Homeless’ is a volunteering and campaigning society that aims to engage students with the crisis on our doorstep. Every Wednesday, up to 15 students go to a Foodbank warehouse that is a 20 minute drive from Uni, and help sort, package and label the food that is to be distributed to our local foodbanks.
Trussell Trust have advised us that the behind the scenes ‘labour’ is so crucial to ensure the smooth running of the foodbanks so many are reliant on. We are also using the ‘Olio’ app which enables local businesses to hand out their remaining food at the end of the day.
We are aware that temporary housing is a huge problem, caused by the inability to get on the housing ladder. As far as campaigning is concerned, we are focusing on Crisis’ ‘Cover the Cost Campaign’: this aims to ensure that housing benefits will cover the cost of living, in order to ensure that everyone has a stable home they can afford. Through letter writing to our local MSP, we aim to emphasise the urgency for this to be a priority domestic policy.
‘More Hope For Homeless’ is a brand new society with big hopes for the future. We would love as many students to get involved in the volunteering or campaigning aspects of the society. Next academic year, we will resume holding a society meeting every Monday at 5pm in M2 Appleton Tower. Please come along and see how your student time and voice can make a difference to our local community!