Homeless doesn’t have to equal hopeless. The further the crisis extends around the developed world, the more clueless governments seem to be about taking care of their citizens.
The private and charitable sectors, however, are coming up with innovations and initiatives almost every week to address the precarious, insecure and grotty nature of life on the street.
This week, the Upside cast the net far and wide to salute these initiatives and find out how well they work.
We spoke to the Australians who set up a mobile street laundry and are now taking it around the world after being inundated with requests for help from British, American and Asian cities.
We found the dentists volunteering to give homeless people a set of dentures – a small intervention that can go a long way to restoring self-esteem and even employability.
Of course, none of this treats the cause or changes the fact that homelessness is on the rise in the UK, US and Australia, to name but three countries. But the hope has to be that if you are able to stay clean, eat well and take measures to safeguard your health, the journey back from destitution may not seem quite as far as it did.
If you took a straw poll of rough sleepers – in San Francisco, Sydney or Southwark – you would probably find many trace their misfortune back to their childhood. It’s a subject that fascinates us and our readers: to what extent does childhood trauma follow the individual through into adult life? And can anything be done about it? Lauren Zanolli found out.
Meanwhile, readers have been in touch asking us to investigate everything from mental illness in older people to algae as biofuel and even, simply, greed.
Let us know if you have any special insight into these or other issues that need looking at.
What we liked
The Washington Post article that set out the importance of the first Native American women being elected to Congress.
Also, this Gazan bricklayer is pretty cool. Thanks to BBC World Hacks for that.
What we heard
Please would you consider covering how the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, provides healthcare to rural areas through its programme of having graduates work in hospitals in remote areas? The college also provides low-cost healthcare in urban areas. It would be sincerely appreciated.
Smita, by email
Fantastic idea. The notion that washing, self or clothes is low priority is very blinkered. As the article states, the physical and psychological benefits are immense, and from such a simple thing that most of us wouldn’t think twice about, until we weren’t able to do it.
Angela Gill, commenting on the article about mobile laundries for homeless people
Breakout dance collective of the week
A small Dutch foundation called Dreaming of Syria has brought refugees and locals closer together. As its founder, Iris Loos, told us: “What if we all just grab the hand of the person next to us, no matter what age or cultural background. That would be a great start.”
Where was the Upside?
In east Africa, where the prevalence of female genital mutilation has fallen sharply from more than 70% in 1995 to 8% in 2016.