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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Sexuality vs Gender: Why it’s okay to be gay… if you’re a man.

Equality for all sexualities!
Correction: Equality for most sexualities!
Further correction: Equality for few sexualities.

The market has been expanding. Let me give you an example: dating apps commonly bought from iTunes include those such as Plenty Of Fish and Match.com’s mobile dating apps. These apps are largely use by heterosexual individuals but, correct me if I’m wrong (I haven’t used these sites myself), homosexual individuals can also search for matches. Apps like Tinder or the new copycat app ‘Hot or Not’ allow anonymous swiping to indicate if you like the look of someone, be they male or female. Then, of course, the famous Grindr, a gay dating app. I even recently found another one called Scruff that’s also a gay dating app. Yay for gays, we say. However, wait just a minute… these apps aren’t universal gay dating apps, no. Grindr Gay Dating AppThese are dating apps for gay men. I am yet to hear of any dating platform for gay women. Sure, some platforms don’t discriminate between gay, lesbian OR bisexual (for example, on Tinder you can choose to be matched with men, women or both). I am yet to see, in this day and age, the opportunity that is available to gay men, open and accessible for gay women. Pretty much all of us have a male gay friend, we even say male gay couples around, nothing special there… but how many female gay friends do we have? How often have you seen a lesbian couple out and about their business like any other ordinary couple? I’ve seen barely a handful of lesbian couples in the past months, which is ridiculous given that there clearly are lesbian women out there.LGBT
In fact, although the concept of a lesbian is alien in our day to day life, this is nothing compared to when I heard a 16 year old boy ask “what’s bisexual?” when learning about equal rights for all. What is bisexual? “Well,” the teacher began to explain, “it’s when someone chooses to like both sexes”. WRONG. This is wrong. The key incorrect word being ‘choose’. Sexuality is not a choice, the same as race and our born sex is not a choice. Even in 2014 (be it early days of the year or not), even teenagers in our modern society don’t understand sexuality. Even in 2014, our teachers in our modern society cannot explain sexuality. True as it may be, that some people may have phases or levels of preference, many of us have heard of the term ‘bicurious’ (although, how often it ends up anything other than bisexual, I don’t know). Even in our new and accepting world, where gay marriages will begin in March this year… There is still stigma towards to gay woman, and towards the bisexual individual. Bisexuality is not greed, is not something to be made fun of, same as homosexuality is not something to be made fun of. Bisexuality is not even the loving of a personality, regardless of sex. Think of how you feel about the sex you are attracted to; their minds, their bodies… the lot. Being bisexual is the same, except for both sexes. A person who is bisexual does not fancy everyone they look at, same as a straight woman, or gay man, do not fancy each and every man they see. No. Bisexuality is feared and mocked, or even called ‘hot’. Even if a bisexual girl does excite a young man, if you don’t know her then don’t tell her that. Who are we to decide to what extent we accept members of the LGBT* community?

Sincerely,
A progressive thinker.

*LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. I haven’t addressed people who are trans as I didn’t want to overload you.