Lifestyle

No more rough sleepers! Country wipes out homelessness with wellbeing approach

Finland's innovative scheme has involved successive governments over the last 30 years.

Imagine a world where people did not have to resort to sleeping on the streets.

Sounds like fiction, right? Wrong.

One country has achieved this, thanks to an innovative scheme that has involved successive governments taking the baton from each other for the last 30 years.

It is due to those in power working together that Finland has conquered homelessness.

[Credit: Tom Parsons]

Over in the UK, our Prime Ministers tend to have short spells in Office, meaning they look to mark their legacy in the present rather than looking ahead at the future of big issues.

Consequently, the number of people sleeping rough in the UK has multiplied since 2010.

In contrast, Finland – a northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia – introduced a ‘Housing First’ principle, which dates back to 2007.

[Credit: Tapia Haaja]

The initiative’s primary objective is to give people who become homeless a home of their own as soon as possible.

RELATED: NEW VILLAGE TO END HOMELESSNESS FOR VETERANS

Along with a roof over their head, the support programme for an individual may include help to tackle an addiction, the option to learn a new skill, or training and education.

[Credit: Steve Knutson]

This wellbeing approach not only offers an immediate solution but looks at long-term goals to keep people off the street and encourage them to reach their full potential.

The knock-on effect then means lower crime rates and the number of drug users.

Meanwhile, the UK only grant a permanent home to someone after a homeless person has been through the hostel or temporary accommodation system first which prolongs the process of an individual feeling settled and being able to give back to society.

Finnish native Thomas Salmi, who became homeless at 18 when he had to leave his orphanage, spent three years on the streets of Finland’s capital Helsinki.

[Credit: Tapio Haaja]

Speaking to BBC, he said: “When you lose everything, it really doesn’t matter. You’re thinking about suicide, am I going to die? Is it safe?

“It is cold, especially in the middle of winter [temperatures can drop to -7C°]. If you’re sleeping outside, you might die.”

Thomas, now 24, credits the Finnish homeless policies with saving his life, as he now has an apartment at a large complex run by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute [HDI].

The HDI have also turned his life around by helping to wean him off heavy drinking.

Boris Johnson, take note!

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