Mel Young, Founder & President, Homeless World Cup, shares insight into the global issue of homelessness and pioneering new solutions with football.

There is no need for homelessness to exist in the modern world. Yet there is homelessness in every country of the world from the richest to the poorest. This is just outrageous.

People now just take homelessness for granted. Homeless people simply become part of the landscape and really become invisible. Everyone become blasé; “well, the homeless are the homeless and they are just there”.   Except they are people – they are human beings – they are people who happen to be homeless with different names, different ages, different ages, different clothes, different sex, different personalities and so on.

We need to be saying that homelessness in any country is an outrage. We need to create a world where no-one is homeless. Whilst we rightly respond to the plight of millions who have been made homeless after the recent floods in Pakistan, there are over 3 million people in the USA who are homeless on the streets and yet this is just taken as an everyday occurrence. It is just seen as a fact of life and it certainly isn’t considered newsworthy.

Countries are ranked in terms of their GDP or wealth with the ones on the top feel all-powerful. I’d like to create a new index which shows the proportion of homeless people in a country next to their GDP and ask the question about moral values. Homelessness is not acceptable and countries should feel utterly ashamed of themselves.

We need to create a world where homelessness does not exist. Over the decades governments have failed to achieve this and the global economy is creating a world of two halves – one for the rich and the other for the poor. We live in a two worlds within one where one half is invisible to the other. It is absolutely unsustainable.

So, people must come together to make these changes but the challenge is: what can we do when we are faced with such huge numbers like one billion homeless in the world today. It is impossible for our brain to comprehend this, so we shut down. But the answer is to take small steps and build small initiatives and then connect up with other initiatives. In this way, we can create a movement which has one clear mission: end homelessness and change the value base of the world in the process.

The Homeless World Cup is one such initiative. We simply use football as a way of getting homeless people to come together to begin to take responsibility for the next step in their lives. We have created a global football stage where we have simply changed the landscape around homeless people and then they change as a result. It is simple. It is magic. It is working. Thousands of homeless people have changed their lives forever as a result of being involved.

We now have around 80 countries connected with the Homeless World Cup and the network is growing. More people are getting involved and importantly more homeless people – now formerly homeless people – are taking up lead roles.

This road is not easy but change is happening. There is a long way to go and many more people need to get involved but many small steps will create a giant wave.

The Homeless World Cup is a gigantic effort creating real, significant change. When human beings decide to move forward, they can move mountains. More people getting involved will turn the trickle into a torrent and we will change the world forever.



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