For three months now, Jack has been coming to the open street kitchen on the square in front of the cathedral. Anna Howard and John Craig started the project together with two other friends. Howard explains: “Everybody is welcome, not just rough sleepers, also the people who are struggling to buy their own food. If our street kitchen would be inside, not even half of the people would come to our place”.
According to the latest rough sleepers strategy of the government, about 83 percent of the rough sleepers in England are male and became homeless in their mid-twenties. Most of them are between 25 and 55 years old. “But there is no average homeless”, Hobson explains. “The people living on the streets are engineers, students, asylum seekers, a lot of people from eastern Europe who tried to have a better life in the UK and many former armed forces. People from every part of the society”.
Also, the reasons why people become homeless are completely different. In their latest report, the professors Suzanne Fitzpatrick and Glen Bramley identified poverty, in particular, childhood poverty, as the most powerful predictor of all forms of homelessness in the UK. According to their work also factors such as ethnicity, education, adverse childhood experiences, gender, and employment are playing an important role. Hobson also sees another problem. “A lot of people suffer by a stroke of fate, become addicted to drugs and end up living on the street”, she explains. “It is a spiral, from which it is difficult to get out again”.
When asked what his goal for the future is, Jack does not answer by stating that he is trying to resettle. Instead, he wants to move to London. "There is more going on, on the streets", he explains. He knows that London is the city with the most homeless people in England. "It gets harder in London, but I've been here too long". After a moment of reflection, Jack says that the conversation has made him think. Talking about his story, he first realized that he had already lived on the street for a year. "Actually, I should not be thinking about London at all. I should not be homeless", says Jack and turns back to get one more hot drink. It is going to be a cold night in Wakefield.