We are a Community at St Mary’s House of Welcome
It goes almost without saying that the overarching cause of homelessness is poverty, but not all people who are poor become homeless.
Not all people who become homeless stay that way for long. Some of the factors that make it more likely that people will become and stay homeless include mental illness, addiction, cognitive or physical disability, family breakdown and social isolation.
Social isolation is a much bigger part of the destructive cycle of homelessness than most people realise.
People who are homeless can experience social isolation because they’re separated from their families and communities, because prejudice and fears about homelessness keep others at a distance, and sometimes because their own shame about their circumstances prevents them from reaching out to others.
As their social isolation increases, over time their social skills can diminish, and with the erosion of their social skills can come the loss of even more of their already depleted circle of support.
The absence of social support causes problems like higher rates of mental health issues and physical illnesses, increased use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, and engagement in risky sexual behaviours.
Thus, social isolation doesn’t just worsen the pain of homelessness, it perpetuates and strengths the cycle itself.
The simple act of coming together for a meal or participating in a group activity of shared interests has a massive impact on someone’s sense of self and worth.
Here, at St Mary’s House of Welcome, we wrap that community around someone, helping to break the cycle of social isolation and self-destructiveness.