On A Mission: How to Tackle Homelessness On A Budget

So I bet that if you’d an avid user of social networking sites, or even just an average user of social networking sites, you’ll have heard of ‘neknominations’. Neknominate, also known as ‘neck and nominate’, is viral. Essentially, an individual receives a ‘nomination’ and subsequently has 24 hours to create a disgusting (and quite heavily alcoholic) drink and recording themselves drinking it. Drinks have included combinations or beers, spirits, cordials, milk, fizzy drink, various cupboard condiments (ie, mayo or ketchup) and pretty much anything a person can get their hands on; spices and hot sauces are not uncommon. More recent nominations have also included individuals dressing unusually or doing it in strange places (see the instance of the Leicester teen who did hers in asda… In her underwear.)

ANYWAY, whilst rolling my eyes cynically, I found instances of ‘raknomnations’. What is RAK? RAK stands for Random Act of Kindness. I’ve seen new takes on nominations where the individual, usually, is giving food or clothing to people who are homeless. This got me thinking; wouldn’t it be wonderful if this went viral? Viral hope in humanity…

So even though I have not been nominated (nek, rak, or otherwise), I’ve been scheming. I’ve decided I’m going to start putting together homelessness packs. This isn’t a big mission, this won’t become my full time job, I’m a student and I don’t have the time to make a big deal out of it, but that’s the point! I’ll bulk buy beans or bread, cereal bars and juice cartons; tissues and toothbrushes, bars of soap and body wipes… I’m not planning on spending a fortune on fancy coats and cashmere scarves – I don’t do that for myself – just spending enough. Think about how often you waste a fiver or a tenner on a burger, or a t-shirt, or on a drink, on anything that you don’t really need. I’m not saying stop doing that, I’m saying tone down the frivolity and put it to use. Instead of buying another t-short for £20, save that money and put together a homelessness pack.

A homelessness pack could include things like:

  • A bar of soap, a toothbrush & toothpaste, a comb, two handy packs of tissues and a pack of wipes, maybe a can of deodorant;
  • A can of beans & disposable spoon, a sandwich, a cereal bar, some fruit, a couple of cartons of juice and a bottle of water;
  • A towel or a blanket, a pair of gloves and hat or scarf.

Some things don’t need to be new; if you’re on a tight budget and you have a spare pair of mittens, give them to someone who needs it! We really don’t need to do a lot to make a difference to someone’s day, and many of us don’t even think about it. Sometimes, it doesn’t even cross our mind, or we’re too nervous to approach a stranger, regardless of who they are. I’ll admit, I’m as bad as the next person; I stick some change in collection boxes and just wonder… It’s time to put actions to our intentions, and I know that I really want to be part of it.

As an example of how little you need to spend to brighten up somebody’s day, and give yourself that warm, fuzzy feeling, I’ve made an example pack (including prices)…

  • Asda smart price toothpaste: 25p
  • Asda protect medium toothbrush, one of a 4 pack: 25p
  • Asda cream moisture bar (soap): 50p
  • Asda ultra soft pocket tissues, two of a pack of 6: 29p
  • Asda baked beans: 32p
  • Homemade sandwich using sliced bread and fillings (cheese, ham, salad etc.): approx. 35p
  • Some fruit (eg, 2 apples and a banana): approx. 70p
  • Asda smart price juice cartons (3): 45p
  • Asda milk chocolate (100g): 60p

GRAND TOTAL: £3.71.

And that’s before you even happen across a pair of gloves in a charity shop, or a warm hat on special offer. Find the right shops, find the right deals, and it costs almost nothing to us. Yet, regardless of the money, this is stuff that a person might not have, that we might take for granted.

So this is a big mission for me, to work up the courage to approach a stranger in public, homeless or not, but I’m up for it.

It’s a little scary even though it’s a little mission, but it’s my mission, and I hope that you’ll join me. It may not be much, but it’s more than nothing. If something like this went viral like ‘neknominations’ has, think about how much of a different we could make.

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