Whether you’ve been there or not, you have undoubtedly heard of it. One of the most famous cities in the world and capital of one of the worlds ‘richest’ countries. Whatever you think of London, it undoubtedly has its charms; however, with so much history, prestige, wealth & glamour, it is easy to overlook the fact that there is a huge wealth divide in the capital of the old British Empire.
Festive Cheer for Homeless London
Some parts of the city you would pay well over £1 million for a one bed house and yet a mile down the road there are most probably thousands of people living on the bread line or below. With property prices & rents getting more and more out of control, and benefits being cut by the government left right and center, there are now more normal people struggling to keep up, with many working people now having to use food banks. If this isn’t bad enough, in the 3rd or 4th largest economy in the world, in 2015, in a city where a pint of beer can cost upwards of 6 quid and it can cost over a fiver an hour just to park your car there are actually MORE people sleeping rough year to year! Having spent part of my childhood in North London and nearby suburbs and worked and hung out in various parts of London, I know that homelessness has been a problem for many years but surely in this day and age of celebrity and excess you’d expect things to be improving? No, according to statistics, it’s actually getting worse! A few years back when I used to work in an office on Old Street it always made me angry how many people there were on the streets but what seemed worse was the attitude of casual indifference shown by most Londoners. Funnily enough it seemed that the more money one actually had, the higher their disdain for homeless people and the more likely they were to write them off as junkies/drug addicts without a thought as to what other factors there could be involved, what this person may have been through and what series of events led to them being in that situation.
Those of my ex-colleagues who came from wealthy families seemed to be even worse, in the true capitalistic mentality most of them genuinely believed that it was 100% down to the individual and that opportunity and environment had nothing to do with it… They couldn’t see that being fired from a rich persons vagina (to quote a hero of ours, Russel Brand) straight into Eton, then Oxbridge, never having to worry about debt and never being at risk of not being able to eat or having a roof over their head could possibly give them any economic advantage over those less fortunate in this day and age… How you ask, could they be so blind as to not see this? Well, I thought about it a lot and I can’t answer the question myself. It gets more worrying though when you realise that 90%+ of our ‘government’ actually are from the same background as these people and judging by their actions since getting into power have exactly the same attitudes toward poor people…
So, with the problem of homelessness getting worse and with another 4 years of Tory government, I think it’s safe to say we can pretty much rule out the possibility of David Cameron or any of his millionaire, poor people hating cabinet even entertaining the idea of doing anything about it. In fact they will probably be too busy laughing at Jeremy Corbyn for having the damn right gall and ‘unbrittishness’ to suggest such a preposterous idea as helping those less fortunate. Jesus, the guy is clearly mad talking about things like sharing the wealth and spending money on public services instead of making public sector cuts and giving it to his mates from Eton. He even thinks that we should probably stop spending billions blowing people up in the Middle East and buying submarines that are capable of wiping out whole cities in minutes when we could be building hospitals and schools instead – the absolute nutter. How ridiculous.
Anyway, with this rant already starting to go on already, I’ll get to the point… With politicians unlikely to help any time soon it falls to the consciousness of the people and the fantastic charities already in existence who are doing their best to make the world a better place.
At TruTravels we also want to try and help make the world a better place and we aim to benefit all those involved with everything we do. With the travel industry now being one of the biggest in the world, it has amazing potential to change lives and share wealth across the world as well as elevating consciousness and forcing people and industry to address issues like sustainability, ethical travel, inequality and the growing wealth divide. We always make sure that as many of our suppliers as possible are local and that the vast majority of money you pay to come on tour with us goes back to the communities we travel through, however, we want to do much more than just that. We already support several charities and help to raise funds and donate either a % of our profit or a set amount per booking every month to a different charity close to our hearts, so when I heard from a good friend of mine back in London who is trying to do something really nice this year to try and make a difference, I had a chat with the TruFam and we decided to try and help her out.
Festive Cheer for Homeless London is a project being organized by Anneliese Hesse who lives and works in the capital, and like us is tired of seeing misery on the streets and watching people routinely ignore the homeless and go about their daily lives. On her Facebook page Annie explains “the aim of the month long initiative is to raise as much money as possible in order to buy Christmas Gift Bags for the homeless people of London. The gift bags will contain small luxuries which homeless people don’t usually get to enjoy… It won’t solve the problem of homelessness but if I can make 100 people smile this Christmas it will at least be something.” Well, how nice. If only Cameron and his crew had this sort of spirit or compassion. (maybe we wouldn’t have resorted to living on an Island in Thailand… or maybe we would anyway… Either way, if they did then the UK would certainly be a nicer place for those without piles of cash).
She told us that her rationale for setting this up is partly to do with the fact that that there is so much material wealth in London and fistfuls of cash being spent on seemingly needless/pointless goods/services but so little going to those who have nothing.We tend to agree with those sentiments and this is even clearer in the run up to Christmas as the advertising bonanza goes into full force trying to make people buy useless shit that doesn’t really have any use or add any value to the world. Indeed, the unavoidable onslaught of ads promoting pointless luxury products, sharing, friends and family values can only serve to add to the misery of those living on the streets in the freezing cold and this time and surely must be viewed as a bit of a slap in the face to those with nothing to celebrate and no one to celebrate it with. So Annie has taken it upon herself to try and do something about this and bring just a bit of joy to those who otherwise probably wouldn’t get much…
On her just giving page she gets it down in a less ‘Tyler Durden’ like style: “I work in the hairdressing industry and although I love it, am aware of just how superficial an industry it can be. I want to do more to make the world a better place and thought this would be nice.” Annie, once again, we salute you! Like you, we also want to make the world a better place one project or one smile at a time.
When we caught up with her to discuss her plan in more detail she told us a bit more about why she is doing it ”So I wanted to do this for a few reasons: I live in London and it makes me sad to see people living on the streets day in day out. I work in the hairdressing industry which although I enjoy my job, I often feel as though I wish I could do more to make the world a better place. I always wanted to be a vet (would still love to but can’t afford to retrain now!) so sometimes the job I do just doesn’t feel enough. I want to give more. Christmas is supposed to be such a happy time and for most people it is their favourite holiday. The thought of it being a miserable time for anyone makes me really sad and I want to do anything I can to help bring a smile to their faces. How disappointed would you be if you didn’t have any Christmas presents to unwrap on Christmas day? Everyone deserves to smile at Christmas. Homeless people have feelings just like anybody else and we often don’t know their story of why they’re there. People often assume the worst which is often not the case. Delivering Christmas presents will not solve the problem of homelessness but if I can make 100 people smile then how amazing would that be?”
So, what are we going to do to help, and how you can help us help her to help put a smile on the faces of homeless people across London during an otherwise ‘orrible time for them?
- Firstly, in order to help grow likes and awareness of her Facebook page and encourage donations, we have donated two places on our 8 day Thailand trip (worth £840) as a prize for one lucky supporter of the cause. Everyone who donates £5 or more will be entered into the draw to win the two tour places, and to encourage even more generosity, for every additional fiver, your name will be entered into the draw again. This means those who donate more will have a higher chance of winning the prize. We even have two December tours and an Xmas special Koh Phangan package this year so you could even get a free last minute winter get away (bar flights).
- Secondly, when the Just Giving page opens on the 1st Nov we will chuck £50 into the pot to get the ball rolling. After this we will pledge an additional £5 per booking received in November. So everyone that books during November will in effect be buying a homeless person in London a Christmas present as well as securing a spot on one of the world’s greatest trips! (we would love to give more but we have already promised £10 a booking to Ball Boys during November in aid of our Movember campaign for Education and Awareness on Testicular cancer and we can’t save the whole world in just one month…)
- Thirdly, we will be sharing Annie’s ‘Just Giving’ page across all of our social media channels all month and asking our groups if they would like to donate to the cause.
What can you do? Well, obviously you can follow the link, like & share the Facebook page and donate £5 or more to be in with a chance of winning the main prize. You can also help out during the month by telling your friends about it, sharing posts from the page and generally engaging with them. Those of you who have already been on tour with us or who are here or coming in the near future are also more than welcome to make a donation to the Just Giving page if you also feel that it is a good cause and you will be in with a chance of winning the Tru mystery prize… You can also share, like and engage with the page for good karma as this will help raise awareness and hopefully donations to the cause.
So, as soon as we have posted this blog and shared it with you we will make our first donation. What are you gonna do to help out? If you can’t afford to donate than sharing the page is free and will increase the likelihood of others seeing the page who might be able to. As I said, travel is a great way of helping to narrow the wealth gap across the world (as long as it’s done right), and whilst we are 110% for the aid of poor communities in developing countries and will be doing all we can on this front in the coming months & years, we will not forget those back home who have also been dealt a bad hand and are in undesirable situations due to factors outside of their control like the wealth of the family they are born into or the environment they are forced to grow up in as a child (regardless of their country of origin).