Last night I was at a dinner in Glasgow, where we heard from Mel Young, founder of The Big Issue and the Homeless World Cup. Mel is a former journalist, who started the Big Issue over 20 years ago as a way to help people get off the streets.
The Homeless World Cup, which took place in Glasgow earlier this year, was another initiative to address the problem of homelessness. Across both activities, they have an 80% success rate, which is fantastic.
However, Mel made a very good point that has stuck with me and won’t get out of my head. In this era, where we can invent things like the Internet, driverless cars, and all sorts of fancy technology to make our lives easier, why can we not solve the problem of homelessness?
It’s a very good question. And like all such questions, there’s no simple answer. How many homeless people are there in the UK? It’s very difficult to find that out – I did a bit of research this morning and was unable to get an accurate number. Mel said that there are 3 million homeless people in the USA, so maybe we’re 10% of that?
I can’t tell you the extent of the problem. What I can tell you is that there are lots of people living on the streets in our towns and cities. Just take a walk around and look. We see it, but most of us ignore it and walk on by. I know, because I’ve done it too.
From the stories that Mel told last night, it’s not a safe place to be, and we need to do something to help these people. What that is, I can’t tell you, but if we can invent cars that can drive themselves, and drones that will deliver your food, then surely we can do something to address the problem of homelessness?