Goodbye to all that

Tackling the problems faced by Britain's homeless
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The Independent Online

If we are going to sustain the reduction in the number of people sleeping rough, we must help people to re-build their lives away from the streets. Permanently. It's vital that we help people into education, training and employment to ensure they are full members of our society. We must also provide the stepping stones required for those who need extra help to get there.

If we are going to sustain the reduction in the number of people sleeping rough, we must help people to re-build their lives away from the streets. Permanently. It's vital that we help people into education, training and employment to ensure they are full members of our society. We must also provide the stepping stones required for those who need extra help to get there.

Homeless people need more than four walls. They, like everyone else, need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. And it's having an income that gives independence and stability. A future away from life on the streets.

The Rough Sleepers Unit has worked in partnership with others to develop schemes and social businesses that do just that. Projects like the catalogue company Aspire, the Blackpool Furniture Recycling Project run by Five Piers Housing Association, and the Community Foods Project run by Arch (North Staffs) Ltd.

We are also funding the Big Issue Trust's "Big Futures" programme to help Big Issue vendors gain qualifications, move into permanent accommodation, access detoxification services and either secure a job or move on to training programmes.

Training, education and employment provide the routes to true equality. For example, when someone describes themselves as a bus driver, all other labels fall away. They have choice, independence and dignity.

Homeless people deserve more than society's handouts. They deserve the dignity that comes with being able to say "I'm John Smith, I work for Aspire" rather than "I'm John Smith, I'm homeless".

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