Homelessness, Poverty, Uncategorised

Sleeping in the open in below freezing conditions

girl s white and gray crew neck top holding gray wire fence
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This week’s weather in the UK heralds some of the bleakest nights and coldest days so far this winter.  Snow and freezing conditions will mean outside temperatures will be below freezing. This seems all the more harsh to comprehend if you imagine what it must be like to be sleeping outside, every night.

I recently met a homeless man in the course of my work and was able to provide some help. It started me thinking how does somebody end up on the streets? 

My first introduction to homelessness as a child was reading about A bear called Paddington by Michael Bond. He arrived in London as an orphan from Peru. For Paddington his story had a happy ending finding a family to live with in Windsor Gardens. But this is not the case for so many people forced into poverty and homelessness.

I’ve read some true life stories recently and found them distressing. People from all walks of life; families, older people and individuals find themselves without food and shelter, often through a chain of adverse events. 

A London based family home is made unliveable through fire damage, the family are left with nowhere to live. The council operates a system for allocating emergency housing and they cannot provide any accommodation. This leaves them living in temporary accommodation. It means a family of four have to share a one bedroom flat for months. 

One older couple in the news recently, were made homeless due to a caravan they had been living in having a broken sewage pipe. They have been living in their car for nine weeks since.

When I was young I remember seeing a few people who were homeless, but it was very rare. If you visit any large town or city in Britain at the moment, particularly London, you will see someone who is sleeping rough. In many parts of the UK, homelessness and poverty are rising at an alarming rate.

In my home town the locals have set up a night shelter for the homeless, it gives rough sleepers a safe warm bed and provides a hot meal. It’s staffed by volunteers and funded by voluntary donations. We also have a food bank supported by volunteers and charity donations. 

During the summer I was shocked to hear about local children from low income families who don’t have enough to eat during the summer holidays. They usually have free school meals but during the long summer break they suffer hunger, isolation and physical inactivity.

A local scheme took place to address this but it was shocking to find out that a relatively rich area has children who go hungry. Child poverty exists in the least obvious places; just around the corner in fact.

Homelessness puts individuals in danger, causes many to become isolated and ruins lives. In many cases the cause is a shortage of affordable housing, funding cuts and low wages.

The next time you see a homeless person in the street and walk past. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment, imagine what it might be like.

How can we help the homeless?

If you are concerned about someone you have seen sleeping rough, it’s important to alert the authorities fast. Contact  Streetlink they can connect the public to the right local services to get a homeless person help.

If it is an emergency situation call 999 in the UK.

Becoming homeless can happen to anyone, for a range of reasons. Be respectful of them. Donate, volunteer help, educate others.

Shelter and Crisis are two organisations that can help if you find someone sleeping rough in the UK.

Your local council have a duty to help someone who is homeless but in practice this can be tricky proving eligibility.

The Citizens Advice Bureau CAB staffed mostly by volunteers, can also give information about housing and debt advice. 

Shelter and Crisis do an amazing job and accept donations to keep their valuable work going. You can also volunteer with them to help raise money and awareness.

Blog, Chronic illness, Fibromyalgia, Invisible illness, Uncategorised, Work

How can I keep working with fibromyalgia

flat lay photography of laptop computer calculator newspaper and smartphone
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I’ve had fibromyalgia for fourteen years now and have kept working. How have I been able to do this?  Thinking back, I wonder myself.

Every day is a struggle. I wake up tired, my body is aching. Just getting up out of bed and moving about can be difficult with fibromyalgia.

When I was first diagnosed and before this.  I felt tired, fatigued and had pain in my body for months that just got worse. Nothing I did seemed to help. To some extent it was a relief to find out what was wrong.  I had managed to keep working and had odd days off.  These days stretched into longer periods of time off. 

After the fibromyalgia diagnosis, I slowly started to learn, how to manage my symptoms on a daily basis. Finding out my limitations and how much I could do without making my symptoms worse or triggering a flare up took time to find out. I found stress played a big part in making symptoms worse. Making sure I took adequate rest breaks during the day was essential. 

At some point during these initial first weeks you will want to consider what changes you need to make in your life to help manage fibromyalgia symptoms. One of them may be to re-evaluate your work choices. Perhaps looking at alternative jobs after doing thorough research.

Thinking about what would help you do your existing job and talking to your employer is worth considering. Beforehand gather together evidence to support your diagnosis such as doctors letters. Get the support of your superior and other more senior staff.  Explain to them what it’s like and how it’s affecting you. Perhaps taking along a diary of symptoms, would be easier to illustrate how to adapt your job. Approach this in a positive way showing you can be flexible, will help.

If you are newly diagnosed, your first step could be to educate others working with you, what fibromyalgia is. Your relationship with colleagues is important when your working, if they have a understanding of your condition it will help you feel more confident about work.

Things that could help you……

If you live in the UK have a look at the following information.

If your looking for a job, finding work with an employer in the UK who is disability confident can make a difference. Depending on what they have signed up to they are encouraged to recruit new staff and retain existing employees who would be defined under the equality act 2010 as having a disability.

The equality act 2010 states that all employers in the UK must make reasonable adjustments  for people with disabilities, or a long term health condition, so they aren’t disadvantaged when carrying out their jobs. 

Your employer can look at ways you can adapt your role, within the reasonable adjustments criteria. This could include switching your working hours to more suitable times or looking at special equipment to help you carry out your role. 

A UK access to work  assessment may be able to highlight things you have overlooked that could help you carry out your work. The assessor contacts you to find out more about your circumstances and makes recommendations to suit you.

So, what else can I do?

I personally think that having a long term health condition has made me more aware of my health and well-being. I look after myself better than some of my peers.

Because I need to exercise regularly to keep my body moving I have a very good awareness of what I need to do to keep as fit and healthy as possible. Take a look at my pages on Exercise , Diet and Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self Help.

Telling your family and friends and explaining how it affects you. With their support you will be able to achieve more.

Having a positive mental attitude and setting yourself realistic goals. I use meditation to help me find focus and a positive direction in my daily life. Follow my link to meditation  for information about this.

I would welcome any fibromyalgia sufferers to get in contact with me about your experiences.