Through the International People’s Project (IPP) I had the opportunity to hear a voice that is rarely heard elsewhere. Those of homeless people. We were a group of 27 participants, from 13 different countries, who experienced this special experience in Leeds, England on a two-week camp thanks to our partner organization St Anne’s Community Services. We got to know the structure of this initiative and the people behind the projects. Our main task was above all to help the clients to eat with them, to have conversations and to get to know them.
This experience has taught us that you can land on the street for a variety of reasons, often structural. Being homeless is rarely a decision. These people have lost all hope of a functioning civilian system. A man, 30 years old, homeless and alcoholic, says to us: “Do not condemn and you will not be condemned, there are always reasons”.
Listening to these people, talking to them, getting to know them, not judging them was the most valuable experience that we were able to experience in this project. We have realized that listening is the first important step. Often, decisions are taken on these people and (pre-) judgments about them without being given the opportunity to share their opinions. Often we heard that everyone can become homeless. During our time at this partner organization, we met homeless people with very different backgrounds.
With this IPP, we have been able to make a small change in this local community with little time, and we ourselves have learned a great deal during those two weeks.