Hull has hit national headlines over the past couple of weeks but, rather dismally, not for the right reasons.
We have all read about, or seen first-hand, the disturbing footage showing a man diving feet first on to a tent down Whitefriargate in Hull where two rough sleepers had bedded down for the night. The attack was entirely unprovoked and can only be summed up as a hideously vicious assault against two un-expecting individuals that were already vulnerable. Although the men inside the tent only suffered minor physical injuries, the mental impact was far greater and the potential for serious physical harm was there. The scene triggered outrage on a national scale and featured on both ITV and Channel 4’s evening news bulletins.
The assault truly trampled over the values that Hull strives to uphold towards its homeless community. As a charity we work hard to protect homeless individuals and get them back on their feet and reintegrated into society. Such blinding antisocial behaviour stands as a startling contrast to the objectives of the charity.
The fact remains that Hull-at-large has a very positive attitude to the homeless community and dealing with the associated issues. As a charity on the frontline we know exactly how generous people can be; we receive regular donations, individuals volunteer their time and people around the city help us by reporting rough sleepers. Not to mention the vast support we get from the city’s business and corporate community.
There’s a saying that a city is not defined by its homelessness but by the way it deals with the problem. Whilst the story of the attack hitting national headlines helped raise awareness and certainly helped bring the perpetrators to some justice, it’s not an accurate reflection of Hull.
Homeless numbers are on the decline and many more rough sleepers have been sign-posted to relevant services such as mental health and addiction clinics.
As we begin a new year with ambitious targets to make our beautiful and inclusive city even better, it’s imperative that everyone embraces all of society. Because together we can all truly make a difference.