We have a daughter, Fern (3 in a fortnight), and I sometimes doubt myself as a mother. Do I support and nurture her enough? Do I involve her in my life enough? When I am off doing my own things, when I am tired and in a bad mood, do I neglect her?
I hope not. Because … I love her extremely and unconditionally. I am not sure if love alone is enough (though I hope it is), but even if it isn’t I am pretty sure it does wonders for her soul, and mine.
This idea of neglect, nurture and love got me thinking about people living isolated from society (literally and figuratively) and the role of love in nurturing and supporting people who are socially isolated or rejected.
What I discovered
I read an article about a project in the USA which gives homeless people $3000 to spend as they wish. The majority end up entering an upward spiral and are able to reintegrate themselves into society.
Another project I read about was one where rough sleepers were given condition-free accommodation. A proportion were able to lift themselves out of poverty as a result. Others remained in poverty, but the unexpected result was that offering this support turned out to be much cheaper to the taxpayer than not offering it, as rough sleepers needed more medical attention, hospital visits and spent more nights in prison. Which goes to show a little unconditional giving can bring out unforseeably positive results.
Here is one of the links about Housing First initiatives: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21632519-how-cut-number-street-dwellersand-save-money-too-one-home-time.
I participated in a 2 hour interview about nurture and neglect of people in poverty by government and society. I specifically spoke about my experiences through Hamilton Homeless Trust, and our efforts to provide unconditional support and love. It was for research being carried out by Poverty Action Waikato and the subsequent report will be accessible to the public as well as read by our city and regional councils.
I continue to show respect and love towards the patrons of Hamilton Homeless Trust whenever I volunteer there or see them around town.