Key Points

  • Email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk with all of your comments and opinions
  • DEBATE POINT: What can be done to prevent homelessness?
  • DEBATE POINT: How do extreme weather conditions affect homelessness throughout the Commonwealth?
  • Ensure you include both the name of your school and its location in the heading of your email
  • DEBATE POINT: Have you been affected by homelessness or not having shelter?

    UPDATE: This debate has now closed.


    Debate time: Thursday 16 January 2014, 1100-1300 GMT & 1600-1800 GMT


    Hello and welcome to today's Homelessness' debate.

    We're about to kick off today's debate and we've already received some great comments.

    We want your pupils' thoughts on our debate points (see above)

    Just email us at commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk and we'll post your comments here as well as contributions we've already received.


    Josh, Bethany and Daniel from Awsworth Primary in Nottinghamshire, UK say:

    "We have seen the video about the athlete who has been homeless himself and we feel that being homeless is wrong and we feel that it should be prevented. We could:

    • Give food
    • Give drink
    • Set up more shelters
    • Not waste food

    We hope that it is prevented as much as possible."


    Dahami from Swarnapali Balika MV in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka says:

    "There are many children in the world homeless. There are several factors responsible, mainly poverty and parental deaths. Many of those children do not have any education and moral values."


    Pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland have the following comments on what could be done to prevent homelessness:

    "More shelters available in the UK.

    Prices of houses to be more affordable.

    Educating people on the dangers of addiction."


    Pasindu from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka says:

    "The main causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, poverty, prison release, lack of affordable healthcare, natural disaster and lack of education."


    Nur Izzah from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia says:

    "Homelessness is a common situation that happens to almost every country in this world. When the economy is getting superior, there are plenty of people who have to struggle for life. They may have money, but maybe they did not have enough to buy or rent a house. In Malaysia, we have some homelessness people that have to stay by the road, bus stop, in an abandoned building when night comes. But some of them are immigrants from Indonesia. I suggest that the government can build low cost houses to give them some ease and can lessen immigrants to reduce homelessness. In a conclusion, homelessness is not fixed, it is our option. I hope that we all can lend hand to help them and give them moral support."


    Pupils at Barnes Farm Junior School in Essex, England watched Joel's story and discussed what home meant to them. Hafsa says: "it is having your family around you."

    Dominion adds: "It is simply a place where you rest."

    Ellie agrees with Joel in the video and says: "It's a place where you feel safe."

    Emily writes: "It's based on having your favourite things around you."

    Joel comments: "Home is a place where you can play safely."

    Adam adds: "Home is where you can eat!"

    What do you think? What does home mean to you? Email your comments to commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Stephen and Moffat from Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School in Embu County, Kenya write:

    "We should eradicate poverty which is a prime cause of homelessness. Peace should be maintained in all the nations of the world to give a chance for the refugees to settle in their countries to build homes."


    Ruth from NorthGate College, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago writes:

    "After watching the video on Joel Hodgson's homeless experience, not only was it moving but it made me think of many preventative measures to prevent homelessness, such as housing developments for people living in poverty and job creation so that people can make a stable income for themselves.

    I believe that extreme weather conditions affect the homeless throughout the Commonwealth because, depending on the country, the people will be vulnerable to extremely hot or cold conditions which can lead to illnesses such as skin cancer, hypothermia, etc.

    Lastly, I have not been a victim of homelessness or not having shelter, however, in my country, it is not rare to see a homeless person sleeping on cardboard or looking for food in a bin. Many of these people ask for money but most times, it is to buy drugs and if you offer them food, they refuse it because they need the money."

    Wunshan Senior High School

    Students from Wunshan Senior High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan write:

    "Homelessness can be prevented by providing shelters and money and that the government must take some measures to prevent the homelessness step by step. They should make laws to help the homeless. For example, organisations should be established to help them to learn skills so they can work to support themselves.

    "We should also prevent wars because wars contribute the most to the homeless."


    Sanand from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India writes:

    "Homelessness is the biggest problem our world is facing in today's scenario. In my opinion homelessness is not just living without a home, it is a feeling of loneliness and sadness. People living on the streets are often homeless. Living on the streets is a like a bad nightmare which no one wants to experience. Tackling homelessness is not just about getting people off the streets it is about finding lasting solutions to stop people from becoming homeless in the first place."


    Bempton Primary School in Bempton East Yorkshire, England watched our Homelessness film featuring Joel Hodgson at their school assembly. They write:

    "During our Harvest Festival we invited a member of the Hinge in Bridlington to talk about the work they do in feeding and helping the homeless people in Bridlington. We donated all our Harvest Festival donations to them.

    "As a school we felt very proud we had helped the homeless people in Bridlington."


    Bhola Govt. High School in Bhola, Bangladesh write:

    "We think home is important for human life. It is one of the essential demands for any people. Everybody needs a home. Homeless people lead a very difficult life, homeless children are very unhappy. We have few homeless families in our local community.

    "Home is like an umbrella on our head."


    Shashini from Deepani Maha Vidhayalaya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka says:

    "As a Sri Lankan we must take an action to prevent the people at risk of homelessness. We must help them and give our hand to prevent this problem. As school children we must to pay attention for this big trouble in our society. If we wait until people become homeless, we are not only exposing them to the damage of life without housing. But we also make it much harder and more expensive to help them out of homelessness."


    Pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland say that extreme weather conditions can affect homelessness by causing "frostbite, hypothermia, death and dehydration."


    Athira from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "Nowadays not only has the number of homeless increased, the people that are becoming homeless are also changing. They are likely to be young men and women, and those unable to afford housing.

    "According to the statistics, the number of homeless people in Malaysia is increasing due to several reasons, which are poverty, unaffordable housing and running away from problems. The main reason people in Malaysia are homeless because they are facing poverty in their life.

    "The homeless in the capital city are not all beggars or vagabonds. In fact, many of them hold jobs during the day. However, they do not make enough to pay for houses or rooms and find it easier to make ends meet by sleeping on the streets."

    Viharamahadevi Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka Viharamahadevi Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka

    Students from Vidyadarsha Maha Vidyalaya School in Nochchiyagama, Sri Lanka write:

    "Joel Hodgson is a good example for everyone, we can change our fate.

    "Homelessness is not uncommon because a lot of people suffer poverty in our area. There are a lot of street beggars and children but the government has started a project to prevent homelessness.

    "In Sri Lanka some of the homeless are disabled, some suffer from mental illnesses. Homelessness is defined as the condition of poverty, war, lack of houses, natural disasters, orphaned children etc."

    They have suggested points to prevent homelessness:

    • Start street schools.
    • Involve them to different self employment such as selling books, newspapers, lotteries.
    • Everyone should care and love the neighbours.
    • Providing people with shelter

    Thanks for your comments. What do you think about homelessness? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Sandaruwan from Trinity College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is a very serious problem that affects human kind and also a very sad incident to the people who have been affected by it.

    "I feel very sorry when I was searching this topic. Homelessness is worse because the people affected by it are commonly affected by diseases."


    Sidhi from Class IX at JBM Global School in Noida, India writes:

    "No, I have not been affected by homelessness or not having shelter, but I have seen people suffering from homelessness or not having shelter.

    "During winters especially people who do not have shelter go through a terrible time.

    "From our school we show great concern to those homeless people by sharing our clothes etc wherever needed through our 'Share & Care' campaign."


    Mahinda Rajapaksha College in Colombo, Sri Lanka write:

    "Home is the place where people can live happily by receiving the love, care and warmth of each other in the family"


    Neil from Sannat Primary & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta writes:

    "In Malta there are several homes that help people with problems. These homes provide services such as a psychologist to help the homeless person become a better person and give start to a new life. 'Dar Arka' in Gozo, Malta is a home that gives people with disabilities a residence. When their parents grow old or die, these people have someone who looks after them."


    Phoebe and Liam from Awsworth Primary in Nottinghamshire, UK say:

    "I think that the homeless people should have more shelters around them because of all the bad weather. And I think that there should be a place built like a care home but for homeless people so they get treated alright."

    Olivia and Brooke add: "I think homeless people should have a care home so they can have a healthy meal and a nice bed. We need more charities to make sure they get back on their feet and there needs to be somewhere where they can get their clothes washed."


    Fatin from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia says:

    "At my housing area, there is a man who is homeless. He walks along the streets everyday and sometimes he stops by the eatery and the workers give him some food and drinks. In the developing cities, we can see many people that are homeless and just sleep under the bridge or on the streets."


    Have you been affected by homelessness or not having shelter?

    Durangi from Swarnapali Balika in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "My answer is no. I see many children affected by homelessness. I feel how they suffer with their life. They didn't get any love or care. It affected their behaviour. I always help those children with support of my parents and other my relations."


    Pasindu from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka says:

    "Homelessness is about more than being without a roof. A home is not just a physical space, it also full of love and affection and care for the child."


    Derrick from Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School in Embu County, Kenya writes:

    "Climate disaster such as floods, Tsunamis, drought etc. should be controlled by taking care of the environment."


    Prachi from JBM Global School, Noida, India writes:

    "The ground shakes, the winds howl, the sea surges, the rivers dry up: People are killed or injured, homes are levelled and livelihoods are ruined. In recent years, devastating catastrophes have killed enormous number of people in a matter of minutes: The deadly Indian Ocean Tsunami, which affected eight Commonwealth countries or the Kashmir earthquake which left 3.3 People million homeless in India and Pakistan. Hundred and thousands of lives were lost in these tragedies but smaller disasters, even if less effective can extract a cumulative toil that is equally destructive."


    Sriwardhani from St. Anthony's Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "If wealthy people came forward to help such homeless people, the world would definitely have a better tomorrow."


    Greta, Shirley, Ian and Lucan from Sannat Primary & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta say:

    "Education is important because you can find a job, learn responsibility, know when to ask for help and show respect to others."

    Hayley, Joelene and Maria-Pia add: "There needs to be affordable housing schemes or low rents. If you see a homeless person you need to help and not ignore them. It could happen to anyone."

    Thanks for your great comments! Do you agree? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Rishabh from DAV Public School in Ballabhgarh, India writes:

    "We can address homelessness by:

    • supporting community investments
    • creation of a Homeless Trust Fund
    • creating more employment opportunities."

    Kartik from, Jodhamal Public School, J&K, India writes:

    "I would never be able to properly understand how Joel might have felt when he was left homeless because I'm lucky enough to have a home and I cannot understand the pity of being homeless without experiencing it myself. However, since I'm an Indian citizen I have seen many homeless people on roads, railway stations, under bridges, etc. and when I look at them I can clearly see the pain in their eyes, and how they long for a place for sanctuary and I think Joel might have felt the same way without a home.

    Joel, had to sell magazines this makes it obvious that Joel was under compulsion and he had to make money even if it was little, this tells us that homeless people like Joel have to do small work in order to survive. Moreover, I think Joel felt neglected since, society would obviously look down on him. Also, the conditions he was put in left him aggrieved, but I do appreciate that he never gave up and is working hard to fulfil his dreams of becoming an athlete."


    Thomas from St. Charles Lwanga Secondary School, Mombasa, Kenya writes:

    "Some of us students have experienced natural catastrophes like floods. You wake up at night and you are surrounded by floodwater in the house. You have lost all household items plus food stuffs. A life in the cold at the mercy of good Samaritans and well wishers, not to mention some situations where due to ethical tensions we have abandoned our good homes and farms and fled.

    "Citizens who have built houses in low lands be moved to higher grounds by governments to avoid flooding, irrespective of ones culture and tribe we should exist as brothers and sisters."


    Dineth from St. Sylvesters' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "In December 2004 mostly the fishing community was affected by a tsunami leaving around 500,000 survivors homeless in Sri Lanka and a lot more in Singapore, Taiwan, etc.

    "Heavy rains cause floods and when the houses are inundated people have to move to other places for shelter until the flood is over.

    "Cyclones too affect the life style of people which will affect in the means of losing power, cables, affecting poor constructed buildings which will eventually lead to homelessness."

    Wunshan Senior High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

    Wunshan Senior High School in Kaohsiung, Taiwan write:

    "Extreme weather conditions affect homelessness: such as droughts, floods, typhoons and tsunamis etc.

    "Those natural disasters will cause great damage to the country and leave a lot of people homeless. Similar natural disasters will also affect homelessness throughout the Commonwealth."

    All of the students in the class said they haven't been affected by homelessness or not having shelter as it is not a common phenomenon in Taiwan.


    Evelyn from Westlands Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya writes:

    "Parents and guardians should be educated on the dangers of abandoning their children on the streets. Parents ought to be responsible for their children and they can only do so if they are educated.

    The various governments should ensure that homelessness is done away with by building homes for the homeless and making efforts to eradicate poverty.

    We in our own right should do what we can by adopting children or contributing to the growth of children's homes."


    Pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland write:

    "We have given money, food and clothing to people who are homeless. We do this because we care for others. We think that educating people on how to manage money could help prevent homelessness."


    Holly, Nathaniel and Ben from Awsworth Primary in Nottinghamshire, England write:

    "My idea for homeless people is to make more food banks and to give the homeless more care."

    Callum, Owen, Shay and Ryan add: "I think you should make more charities so that more people can give more money and also more education. I think that you should also make homeless homes for homeless people as well as care homes."


    Zahirah from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "Homelessness is a serious global issue that happens as a result of poorness. People who are homeless do not have shelter or any dwelling to protect them from extreme weather or any wild animals. It is very dangerous, risky and miserable because their safety is not guaranteed. I think everyone must work hand in hand, even if they have not been affected by homelessness, to overcome this issue. We can help the homeless people by building their dwelling, even a small one, or by giving some meals or moral support so that they could have a better future."


    Kartik from, Jodhamal Public School, J&K, India writes:

    "In order to end homelessness, we need to prevent people at risk of homelessness from losing their grip on housing in the first place. This requires these people being identified early and effective strategies to divert them away from homelessness and into housing that is safe, secure, affordable and permanent.

    "We should prevent people from becoming homeless on a daily basis through many of our services. This involves helping people to sustain their public, private or community housing if it is under threat and assisting people to find alternative housing where necessary."


    Students from-SAI International School, Bhubaneswar, India write:

    "Being homeless is the greatest misery one can face. We the students have a huge responsibility in opening the eyes of the adults who have been ignoring these issues and think this is not their concern at all. How sad!"


    Kyle, Aaron, Ilias, Nicholas, Kurt and Nathan from Sanat Primary & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta write:

    "We should help our society to be aware of the consequences of bad habits such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse and gambling through educational programs.

    "Therefore people will not be prone to gambling their home away."

    Sanat Primary & Special Unit Sanat Primary & Special Unit

    Tobiloba from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Nigeria writes:

    "Extreme weather conditions have huge effects on the homeless people. They are affected by the rain, snow, heatwaves, etc. A lot of homeless people die due to the harsh weather conditions in their countries because they do not have roofs over their heads.

    "There are thousands and thousands of homeless people in the world today."


    Pasindu from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka says:

    "Nowadays in some Commonwealth Countries, the weather is not good. The climate is very cold and snow falls. It's very difficult to live outside (without a roof) because of bad weather. But many homeless people live outside in that bad weather. I feel nature also does not support those poor ones."


    St. Francis Nursery/Primary School in Lagos, Nigeria write:

    "Homelessness is a situation whereby an individual or group of people become homeless. It is a situation of lack of shelter and complete homelessness. Homelessness could arise as a result of Poverty. Homelessness can arise due to poverty level. A poor and jobless fellow without source of income could be homeless.

    "In Africa, a woman and her children could become homeless after the demise of her husband if the husband relatives are inconsiderate."


    Siti, Puan and Amirul from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia say:

    "No one has the guarantee that he will live in the prosperity the whole life. That is why we should help each other, we should remember that such qualities as compassion and loyalty shouldn't die in our souls."


    Naman from Jodhamal Public School, Jammu, India writes:

    "Home for me is not a place. It is people who live with me. Home is always filled with comfort and warmth. It is one of the basic amenities of life.

    Homelessness on the other hand is like a curse. People experiencing it do not have a proper place to dwell in. They are unable to acquire and maintain a safe, secure and adequate shelter. At least 78 million people are homeless in India despite the country growing in global economic stature."


    Nadeeshani from Vidyadarsha Maha Vidyalaya School in Nochchiyagama, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is a great topic to speak about at present because it is common to every country. Hunger, thirst and shelter are the major points of homelessness. These points affect poverty, crimes and robberies. Homelessness can be seen in developing countries. When we think about Asia, a lot of people suffer from homelessness.

    DEBATE POINT: What can be done to prevent homelessness?

    We should find the victims who suffer with homelessness and we have to take necessary solutions to prevent homelessness. We can:

    • Bring food
    • Give money
    • Give recyclables
    • Donate clothing
    • Volunteer at a shelter
    • Tutor homeless children
    • Take homeless children on trips
    • Create lists of needed donations
    • Employ the homeless
    • Push for state homelessness prevention programmes."

    Arnav, Akankshya, Tanmoy, Shrusty and Javen from SAI International School in Bhubaneswar, India write:

    "Hundreds of children have the sky as their roof while we rest comfortably in our rooms. Children of SAI international School initiated a drive to give comfort to the homeless babies adopted by the Mother Teresa's centre in Bhubaneswar. We appeal to the people who have enough to spare to help the homeless ones."

    They add:

    "India has faces this problem for ages. Homeless people, even children, are lying on the street sides forever to be helped. Charity homes are not enough to house all of them but who will? It is a million dollar question. Let the world come forward as one and help these people in need."


    Swetha from Ashoka College, Horana, Sri Lanka writes:

    "When there are disasters like earthquakes, tsunami and droughts and floods, people become homeless.

    "As school children we can help them by giving raw materials, clothes and food to eat. Let's help them as children."


    Pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland say: "some people might not be homeless and beg for money when they don't need to."

    Do you agree? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Larissa, Elena, Neil and Nicholas from Sannat Primary & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta write:

    "Most homeless people are women and their children who have to leave their home because of violence and have nowhere to stay.

    "The government can help by building flats for them."


    Euticus from Shamanei Primary School, Nyahururu Kenya writes:

    "The government can prevent homelessness by preventing chaos like in South Sudan and other man made causes but in case of issues that are natural like rain it can help in evacuating people and later assist in construction of new homes for the affected. Communities can also help each other to avoid the situation of homelessness."


    Kimberly from Banky's Private School in Abuja, Nigeria writes:

    "If the cost of renting houses is lowered in Nigeria, people can have homes."


    Arnav, Akankshya, Tanmoy, Shrusty and Javen from SAI International School in Bhubaneswar, India say:

    "The world is in need of real life heroes like Joel to exemplify and work hard to at least help some homeless people. It is an SOS call from the students of SAI to the adults to think about this.

    In some places of India old parents are deserted when they become helpless and left near temples and other public places to beg and survive. It is high time we plan and make more old age homes which are very few and therefore old people aren't just left on the streets to perish."


    St. Francis Nursery/Primary School in Lagos, Nigeria have shared some factors which lead to homelessness, they write:

    • Over population: could affect the economy and lead to homelessness.
    • Natural disaster: such as volcanic eruption and earthquakes can also lead to the loss of lives and homelessness.
    • Flood and fire disaster: another contributing factor to homelessness.
    • Migration from rural area to urban area: could increase the population and make some people homeless.
    • Solution: Government should control population explosion, see to the policy of affordable housing for all."

    Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School in Embu County, Kenya write:

    "Some celebrities were affected by homelessness before they gained fame and popularity. This encourages us to see the talents of street children and adapt them as our own.

    "Homelessness can also be prevented by building more children homes which will reduce and eventually street children will be a thing of the past.

    "Sports can also help in reducing the great number of street children by calling them and bringing them to places to share their talents and may be adopted by the people who watch them."


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Sri Lanka has responded to the pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland:

    "I do agree with 1152, pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School. Sometimes they do beg to collect money and do a lot of bad things. People use money for drugs and alcohol, pretending they are begging for homes."


    Bosede from Girls Senior High School, Lagos, Nigeria writes:

    "It is true that some people may not be homeless and yet go out to beg for money. This can happen when they are jobless as a result of lack of education."


    Tobiloba from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Nigeria writes:

    "Homelessness is a problem in our world today. In order to end homelessness, we need to prevent people at risk of homelessness from losing their grip on housing in the first place. This requires these people being identified early and effective strategies employed to provide them with safe, affordable and permanent homes.

    "It is quite common for people to become homeless when they are discharged from hospital or to be refused bail due to having no fixed address."


    Shazna from St. Anthony's Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka also agrees with Bonnybridge School:

    "I totally agree with Bonnybridge Primary School (1152). It is due to such frauds why people are reluctant to help the needy nowadays."


    Pupils from Indraprastha Global School in Noida, India have replied to the comment from pupils at Bonnybridge Primary School, they say:

    "Yes, some people might not be homeless, yet they beg for money. We should instil this value among students that HARD WORK is the key to success and a harmonious life."


    Pupils of year 6.2 from Sannat Primary and Special Unit School , Gozo, Malta write:

    "Gozo is a small island and given that the population is growing when it rains, homes are flooded in some places near the sea, such as Marsalforn.

    "Devastation is felt but no one is left homeless as we have a strong sense of community and we all help each other."


    John, Lilian and Erick from Shamanei Primary School in Nyahururu, Kenya write:

    "Weather conditions can be very dangerous. Flood in the UK have affected so many people and the government and international communities should move in and help the affected people.

    "Strong winds are also known to destroy buildings and displace people sometimes causing a lot of deaths. Early warnings are very important so that ways can be put in place for preventing the destruction."


    Pupils from class P6B at Hyndland Primary School, Glasgow, Scotland write:

    Eliza: "Some children get abused, or feel unhappy for whatever reason and run away. They might not think about it at the time, but end up homeless. Perhaps we could set up a "street watch" where people are employed to search for, and help young homeless people."

    Eliza: "Perhaps the government could use a small amount of income tax and put it towards tackling the homeless problem."

    Harry: "People in this country can lose their homes through things like gambling. Perhaps we should set an upper limit on the amount of money people can gamble with."

    Cosmo: " In an ideal world, it would be great if we could set up a lot more homeless charities and hostels/soup kitchens for those in need. Also accommodation and places for people to live after natural disasters."

    Tyler: "It's really good that charities provide work opportunities for people who are homeless so that they can learn new skills to find a job."

    Felix: "It would be a nice idea to set up more community places for homeless people where they can meet and talk with other homeless people. That would mean they would make some friends and feel not so alone."

    Eli: "It would be good if rents were cheaper and people would be able to afford to live in their houses instead of becoming behind in the rent with the risk of losing their home."


    Primary 4-7 at Foveran School in Aberdeen, Scotland write:

    "If the problem of homelessness is to be tackled well, we need to know the cause and reasons. That's really important towards a successful outcome for all concerned.

    "When people don't have enough money they can't afford a house or things they need. In our opinion we think that charities and local councils can work together more.

    "We think that there should be access to homeless clubs because homeless people can express their worries and feelings. With charities like the Big Issue helping them to earn money they could use that money to buy things like games, food and shelter.

    "Our teacher Mrs Mackie thinks the quote from another Commonwealth School 'Home is like an umbrella' is a great quote. Our homes are really precious."

    Thanks for your great comments!


    Sarvesh from DAV Public School, Ballabhgarh, India writes:

    "It's the responsibility of the government to provide homes to all its citizens. It's complete failure of the government if people have to live on streets. Its government's responsibility to provide them with livelihood. It's the right of every human being to live respectfully."


    UPDATE: We're more than half-way through today's 'Homelessness' debate.

    There's still time to get involved - email your comments to commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk and let us know what you think can be done to prevent homelessness.


    Dhvani from, Jodhamal Public School, Jammu, India writes:

    "To prevent homelessness, the best way is to surround ourselves with the people who love and care about us. The main cause of people being homeless in the family breakdown or exploitation by adults."


    Athiththan from Trinity College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Families with children are experiencing increasing rates of homelessness throughout the country and are highly vulnerable. Most have experienced extreme poverty, residential instability and violence, and have limited education and work histories. Homelessness is a devastating experience that significantly impacts the health and well-being of adults, youth, and children. Often, members of homeless families have experienced ongoing trauma associated with poverty and the loss of home, safety, and sense of security. Traumatic experiences have a profound effect on child and youth development and the ability to learn, ultimately affecting success in life... and you must know that you are unique and special."


    Morine and Evaline from Shamanei Primary School in Nyahururu, Kenya write:

    "We have been affected by weather when the rain was too much. It flooded every where including the kitchen, the bedroom and all over.

    "We had to move away to safer areas higher above the hill. We carried only what was very important.

    "It was cold and chilly, and we were very wet as the rain kept on raining without stopping. I would never like to experience that kind of weather again."


    Arif from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Ogun State, Nigeria writes:

    "All over the world, there is poverty, bribery and corruption but one stands out - "being homeless". I can imagine what it feels like to be homeless, with no hope of survival. If I become a leader, I will change things. Everyone deserves a chance to live. No one should be homeless; not in this 21st century."


    Foveran School in Aberdeen, Scotland write:

    "Homelessness is a major problem throughout the world.

    However, we think that many things can be done to reduce or even prevent homelessness in some areas. For example if there was a natural disaster (like a fire or a flood), people could be well prepared and take on responsibility by making sure they had home insurance.

    "If they didn't have home insurance they could live with a friend or family for a while, the community or government could set up a place for the homeless to sleep or they could get help from a charity like Joel did.

    "We think Joel is a determined inspirational person. Good luck in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Joel. We'll be watching out for your success!"


    Isuri from Viharamahadevi Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "We can collect a fund in the school at least a few coins, then we can talk to well wishes and business personalities and find the person most in need of a home from our local area and build up a house and provide shelter."


    Dhanesh from DAV Public School in Ballabhgarh, India writes:

    "I agree with pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland that some people might not be homeless and beg for money when they don't need to. They try to gain our sympathy. We find such people in India at public places and tourist spots. This should be discouraged and we should not give any favours to such people."

    Do you agree? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Bankys Private School in Abuja, Nigeria write:

    "When disasters like floods happen, people's houses get destroyed and they have no home to live in."

    Pascal adds: "To prevent homelessness, the government should build more houses."


    DAV Public School in Ballabhgarh, India write:

    "We watched this film in class today and we are happy to participate in the live debate.

    "It is miserable to be homeless and be deprived of common amenities. In our school, we have a project called 'Koshish' for underprivileged girls of 4 or 5 years. They are brought to school and are given free education, books, study materials, clothes and food.

    "We help these girls by contributing from our pocket money. We also have a toy bank and book bank in our school to help them. It is miserable to be homeless and being deprived of common amenities."

    DAV Public School in Ballabhgarh, India

    Qasrina from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "The main reason people in Malaysia are homeless is because there are facing poverty in their lives, due to poor health, unemployment and other temporary events. So, Malaysia's government must take this problem serious and try to solve this problem. We must pay attention to the people around us, maybe they are having homelessness. That is why we need to help each other. It will make them happy and as a support to them to move on their lives."


    Ridmi from Vidyadarsha Maha Vidyalaya School, Nochchiyagama, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is a tragic situation. After watching the debate film, I can understand better " what is homelessness?"

    "There are 20 students who come to our school from DON BOSCO Church. That church provides accommodation with food for children. They are in different religions. Those students have entered this church because they are very poor. Their parents cannot look after them due to poverty. Centres like this help to prevent homelessness.

    "I am very lucky girl as I have never affected by homelessness. But there was a friend of mine who was homelessness. She had lost her parents and also her house due to the war. Now she lives with her aunty.

    "In Sri Lanka, flood is the most dangerous disaster. It destroys the life of people. In the past tsunami has destroyed homes of relatives."


    Jean Carl and Glennfrom Sanat Primaru & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta write:

    "It is important to help people be aware of job opportunities and help them acquire new jobs so as to help them find financial support."

    Michela, Marie and Amy say: "We should help by showing solidarity to people in need and not judge or show disapproval."

    They add: "All of us agree that we should help charities by donating money, clothes and food. The government can also help by lessening taxes and provide them with social welfare."


    Swetha from Ashoka College in Sri Lanka writes:

    "Each and every child in this world has same blood that is red. So everyone has the same needs in their life. Home is one of the needs we all should have. Without a home we can't do our studies well.

    "Today many people live on roads as they do not have a shelter. We must help them as they are the people those who have same blood like us."


    Stephen from Westlands Primary in Nairobi, Kenya writes:

    "Adults should pay taxes to the government to make the government have enough resources to build homes for the less fortunate in the society.

    "More schools should be built so that millions of children are educated and economically empowered so that they may be able to either buy their own houses or build their own houses."

    Collins says: "Economically empowered parents should be encouraged to adopt homeless children and to treat them as their own. The homeless should be enrolled in schools in order to help their families in future."


    Husna from Smka Al Irsyad in Penang writes:

    "I agree with pupils from Bonnybridge Primary School in Falkirk, Scotland. They say that some people might not be homeless and beg for money when they don't need to."


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka emailed in response to an earlier comment:

    "I do agree with 1215, Sarvesh from DAV Public School,Ballabhgarh, India's comment; "It's the responsibility of the government to provide homes to all its citizens".

    "We in Sri Lanka had several programmes like Gam Udava,- constructing villages for underprivileged people. Actually they should be admired."


    UPDATE: We'll be running a second window for today's debate from 1600-1800 GMT


    Lucy, Lydia, Samuel, Archie and Morgan from Awsworth Primary in Nottinghamshire, UK write:

    "I think that the homeless people should have more shelters at least one in each town. There should be special homes for the homeless and cheap homes."

    Megan and Finley agree and write: "My idea for homeless people is that there should be more homes for homeless people and to have more homeless shelters."

    Ellis, Kayleigh and Brianna add: "I think that people who are homeless should have more food and clean water."


    Paramjot from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India writes:

    "I feel that severe summers and extreme chilly winters are a real cause of concern for the homeless. As I bring up the recent case of last Thursday in New York City and other densely populated areas in the other states. The whole of Albany could be buried under over a foot of snow with the temperature reading -20 degrees and that could be really precarious situation for the homeless. Being an Indian I feel that our government is taking many steps to remove homelessness, however many are still homeless as I refer to the recent example of the Muzaffarnagar (India) riots - masses of people are still suffering in these chilly winters without homes. They lack basic survival kits including blankets, warm clothes and most important, shelter. Due to this cause many people have died and are sick."


    Muhammad from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "Humans are increasing everyday so the cost of the house will increase because of the high demand. People who have a low salary will have a big problem to buy a house. Furthermore, houses provided by government are low quality and not suitable for who have a big family.

    "Plus, Malaysia today is full with illegal immigrants. They are not allowed to make a loan to buy houses because they do not have an identification card and are not citizens of Malaysia. So they make their home in squatter settlements which are harmful and do not have any certification from any contractors. If their house suddenly burns, the fire brigade will have a lot of problems to save the house."


    Jenny and Daryl from Upton-By-Chester High School in Chester, England write:

    "The media often sensationalises being homeless and has given a false perception of what it's really like to be living on the streets, begging for hours for a tiny bit of money to pay for necessities.

    "However they don't emphasise the vulnerability of homeless people and the reoccurring problems they encounter such as safety.

    "Homeless people are stigmatised because society attaches a negative ideology that they are on the streets through choices they have made, when in reality they are victims.

    "Therefore, to change society's view on homelessness we need to challenge the media institutions which enforce the negativity towards those deprived of basic living standards. Only then can we truly prevent homelessness."

    What do you think? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Indraprastha Global School in Noida, India write:

    "The movie on Joel Hodgson was an experience to be shared.

    "We are pleased to be a part of this debate on homelessness. As part of Social Awareness week we visited an NGO, where teenage boys stay together as they are homeless. We gifted them books and pencils, played quizzes with them and performed a street play for them.

    "It was disheartening to see the kids staying away from their families. Homelessness is not a condition it's a situation.

    "We all must join hands and take measures to stop it."


    Aysha from St. Anthony's Girls College, Kandy in Sri Lanka writes:

    "Yes. I agree with 1205, Tobiloba from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Nigeria's comment.

    "We should take steps to prevent homelessness ! It is affecting people day by day and it can be prevented by helping the homeless and preventing people from building homes in hazardous places."


    Pupils from Bankys Private School in Abuja, Nigeria have sent in their comments:

    Malvan: "To prevent homelessness, the government should build homes for the homeless. I have not been affected by flood before but natural disasters can destroy homes and the people will be scared and run away from their houses."

    Veronica: "What can be done to prevent homelessness is to provide good jobs and education so that people can earn money to build houses."


    Benedict from Kilimo High School in Nakuru County, Kenya has shared some ideas to prevent homelessness. Benedict writes:

    • "Building permanent houses on fairly hilly places since weather conditions like rain can cause floods which destroy the temporary houses hence causing homelessness.
    • Promoting peace, harmony and unity. This is because when elections occur, people burn other people's houses and others run away for rescue leading to homelessness.
    • The Government should build more industries in order to create employment since many people unemployed and unemployment causes poverty which can lead to homelessness."

    Leanne and Ali, from Upton-By-Chester High School, Chester, UK write:

    "Homelessness is a rising issue but not an age or gender issue, it can affect anybody; whether it involves living on 'the streets' or in an environment without choice. Many people relate to this issue with the people you see scattered through cities, but is this really the case?

    "In recent studies of homelessness, statistics show that only 27% of females are living on the streets compared to 73% that are male. Homelessness has always been stigmatised by the general public, however, some people don't have any other option, for example women and men affected by domestic violence within the homes. Therefore, before creating negative opinions on these people, consider the various backgrounds and the many reasons that has resulted in their lives ending up in these circumstances!"


    Nur Farah from SMKA Al Irshad School in Penang, Malaysia says:

    "In Malaysia, there are many homeless people including those who have jobs but do not earn enough to rent a room or house. They sleep on the streets, under the bridge and popular areas in the town. One of the ways to prevent homelessness in our country is giving them houses or rooms."


    Durangi from Swarnapali Balika National School, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "One thing we can do is to build low cost houses for homeless. Another thing is building flats for people living by roadsides in temporary huts made of polythene etc. An example is when the Sri Lankan government made flats for people like this successfully.

    "This upgrades the quality of living in harmony and safeguards the cultural value .Giving loans for building houses at a low rate of interest and finding new techniques for building houses at low cost demote the rate of homelessness.

    The Commonwealth has many countries that face the effects of extreme weather conditions. Many people die from this because of homelessness."


    Ananya from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India writes:

    "In my opinion homelessness is a crisis for each and everyone facing it. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure, and adequate housing, or lack 'fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.'"


    Bosede from Girls Senior High School in Agege, Nigeria writes:

    "To prevent homelessness, there should be strict migration rules by the Government so that the population of the people staying in a particular region can be curtailed. The higher the population, the more the number of homeless persons."


    Remember when the Commonwealth Class debates are over on this site you can continue the discussion by visiting Commonwealth Class - British Council Schools Online.


    Chris and Callum, Year 13, from Upton-by-Chester High School in Chester, England write:

    "A big problem regarding homelessness especially within the UK is the negative perception that homeless people are strongly associated with the notion of criminality and deviance, we believe this isn't the exact reality of homelessness. This is instead a result of the unrepresentative statistics produced by the government and false portrayal within the mass media, also homelessness can be a unfavourable issue for politicians in the UK as the homeless are perceived to be the unvalued and with little importance and they can not contribute to the voting system which is in place in the UK, therefore homelessness is not targeted. Homelessness is a complex issue and can not be defined and judged by quantities of data, the meaning behind the problems are they way to aid and attempt to help the singular issues in isolation, rather than swooping generalisations which only stereotype and create invalid perceptions of human beings in question.

    Another contributing factor regarding homelessness but one not considered by the public, is the problem when reformed prisoners finish their sentences and have no place or family to go to for shelter. This is an issue of the welfare state in how prisoners will have to apply for waiting lists for housing solutions, which can take possibly 4 or so weeks. Therefore where do they stay? This can result in a increase in crime due to desire to repeatedly offend just to gain access to some form of shelter and three meals a day. Enforcing the concept of finding meaning behind the homeless is the only way to try and solve the issues."


    Nur from SMKA Al Irshad School, Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "I agree with Lucy and Lydia from Awsworth Primary from Nottinghamshire, UK that every town must have shelters or special homes for the homeless. In my opinion, every government in the world must set up a special programme to help the homeless people. The government should also have a special fund allocated to help the homeless people. It is frightening that global warming has caused severe weather conditions in the whole world. Even in Malaysia, we always face flash floods due to unpredictable weather.

    "Recently, near my home, a family was made homeless due to an unexpected fire that raged their home. Therefore, this special fund is badly needed to help the homeless people so that they can get on with their lives."

    Chris and Callum, Year 13, from Upton-by-Chester High School Chris and Callum, Year 13, from Upton-by-Chester High School

    Japheth from Kilimo High School in Nakuru County, Kenya writes:

    "The government should set aside some land form the spare lands which are not used in the country for use by these people who are homeless.

    "People should be taught on the various ways of family planning to control the number of children hence controlling a country's population.

    "Extreme weather conditions affect the homeless by:

    • It may lead to death especially the small children due to adverse cold from rainfall.
    • Spread of diseases e.g. Malaria which leave many people suffering."

    Precious from Corona Secondary School, Agbara, Nigeria writes:

    "Homelessness can be defined as a state where one is unable to find shelter. It is the most extreme form of house need. It can be seen in people who sleep on the streets, walk on the road aimlessly all day and all night. It affects you in all aspects of life - your health, your work, your education.

    "It can be prevented by:

    • Funding those who are not as privileged as others.
    • Providing local housing scheme.
    • Improving homelessness facilities.
    • The use of local councils to create strategies to tackle homelessness."

    Pasindu from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "I suggest we need to make suitable residence for our street children. We all should help the government and make a kind request for well-wishers around the country.

    "It would be better to create flats like houses as it will need less land and save space."


    Dhvani from Jodhamal Public School, Jammu, India writes:

    "Homelessness is the worst experience which no one wants to experience. Home to me means a lot. Home is a small world in which we can live our life independently. Only homeless people know the importance of home.

    "Homelessness influences every facet of our life. The experience of homelessness inhibits the physical, emotional and the social development of a child. Street children lose their right to survival. Some of the problems leading to homelessness include:

    Disability: The disabled children or people are often left on the streets to live their life. This leads to homelessness for the disabled.

    Lack of affordable housing: In today's life it is very difficult for a person to buy even a small cottage or house. Most of the people blame the lack of affordable houses as their cause of homelessness. "


    Westlands Primary School, Nariobi, Kenya write:

    How extreme weather conditions affect the homeless throughout the Commonwealth:

    Evelyn 13 years: "When the weather is extreme a good example is during the rainy season they are prone to diseases such as malaria and common cold."

    Shallom 13 years: "In the western countries where they experience the four seasons, homeless children suffer due to the sudden climatic changes especially during winter."

    Dativa 14 years: "Homeless people do not have proper facilities to cope with the ever changing climate."


    Isuri from Viharamahadevi Girls college in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "We always think about rain, floods and tsunamis when talking about homelessness. But when it is very very hot there can be land fire and houses get burnt. What do you think?"


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka asks:

    "I live in a hilly area where there is heavy rain and earthquakes. I can well remember once a number of houses and lives were lost. And many people were homeless. Have you got an experience of like that?"

    Bankys Private School in Abuja, Nigeria Bankys Private School

    Elosola from Bankys Private School in Abuja, Nigeria says:

    "Giving proper education can help to prevent homelessness"


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness can be caused in many forms.

    • It can be due natural disasters.
    • Sometimes it's because of the economical status of the person.
    • The most unfortunate matter is to become homeless since a kid is left alone by the parents of children.

    "To overcome these problems we have to be cautious and the government should pay a major role in announcing natural disasters and should have proper rules to punish the people those who are doing disasters to the environment. We as children should always protect the environment.

    "Some people make the street side as their shelter, In those incidents the government and the NGOs should intervene to provide homes.

    "Foster parents, children's homes, and elders' homes provide shelter for those who are left alone."


    Emmanuel from Kilimo High School in Nakuru County, Kenya suggest ways to prevent homelessness. Emmanuel writes:

    • "Setting a scheme to help homeless people - passing a message earlier of the extreme weather conditions to prepare themselves early enough and start settling in areas where they will not be affected.
    • If the temperatures are high causing draught due to short of water and food, this leads to migration of people in search of pasture and water thus populations lead homeless lives."

    Pupils from Blairdardie School in Glasgow, Scotland have sent in a selection of comments:

    Euan writes:

    "I personally have not been affected but I know how homeless people feel because you feel lonely."

    Conor thinks:

    "I think homeless people should get a rental house for free."

    Nathan writes:

    "I think homelessness is terrible and nobody should have to live that way everybody should have a shelter to sleep in."


    Fathima from St. Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "For me home means a place of rest and happiness filled with love, care and protection."


    Kekalet Primary School in Kenya write:

    "Preventing civil wars that cause people to be displaced hence leading to homelessness.

    "Encouraging unity and preaching peace whilst discouraging tribalism could also prevent homelessness."


    Tharishka from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "We can prevent homelessness by building shelters for homeless people. All of us live in a society, like a chain. But there are poor people and there also rich people in our society.

    "So rich people can build homes because they have lot of money but poor people can't build fixed homes because they haven't money."


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Why doesn't somebody introduce a cheap way of building up houses? Then many people would be benefited."


    Dhvani from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India writes:

    "Homelessness is a big crisis our world is facing. Homelessness is not just living on the streets. It's about a family who cannot afford to live in a big house like ours. It's about a mother whose only dream is to make her children big businessmen and doctors.

    "There are 100 million people all around the globe who are homeless."


    Hope from Westlands Primary in Nairobi, Kenya writes:

    "People should love one another and be generous to create a better society.

    • We should welcome street children to our homes and share what we have with them.
    • The government should build more orphanages to ensure that no child spends out in the cold streets.
    • The government should ensure that resources are shared equitably to create a just society hence no homelessness due to poverty.
    • The youth should be employed and retirees to go to the rural areas. Employment opportunities will create wealth and discourage homelessness."

    Sasmitha from Trinity College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Extreme weather conditions further worsen the condition of the homeless by changing the temperature drastically, causing various diseases and disturbing the sanitary and health facilities. For example, the recent and still on-going extreme cold weather in the USA has worsened the situation of the homeless and also rendered other people too, homeless. Another example is the recent typhoon in the Philippines, where the strong gusts of wind swept away the homes of many."


    Sasmitha from Trinity College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "I think that homelessness, though how severe it is, can be prevented. There are a several simple steps we have to follow to prevent homelessness. So let us give our hand to these helpless, homeless people and help them get back up on their feet again!

    May all the homeless people be people full of homes!"


    UPDATE: We're going to wrap up this first session of today's 'Homelessness' debate.

    Join us if you can from 1600-1800 GMT to share more of your comments on the debate points (see above)

    Thanks to all of you for taking part in today's 'Homelessness' debate.

    Remember your teacher can download a Commonwealth Class certificate here.


    15 MINUTES TO GO UPDATE: Today's second 'Homelessness' debate isn't too far off.

    Very soon we will be featuring more comments and pictures from schools around the world on this page.

    Email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk to share your views on today's debate points (see above)


    Hello and welcome to the second window of today's Homelessness' debate.

    This window will run from 1600-1800 GMT.


    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada have got in touch to tell us what they think can prevent homelessness, they write:

    • "Having more shelters available
    • more job options
    • increasing wages to help offset the rising cost of personal needs
    • decreasing the number of homes being built as these expensive homes are becoming too much of a cost for some and causing them major financial strain discrimination."

    Angie and Rowena from Sanat Primaru & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta write:

    "In our country we have 'homes' that cater for people who are homeless. There are three main homes.

    "One home helps women who suffer from domestic violence, another helps males (YMCA) and Dar il-Providenza takes care of and help people who have a disability."


    Matheesha from St .Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "There are three main reasons for homelessness.

    • Due to Poverty
    • Natural Disasters also make people homeless.
    • Wars are another cause for people become homeless.

    To these three reasons another reason is added.

    That is some people tend to prefer changing their homes or live a nomadic-life."


    Isuri from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Food, water and shelter are the basic needs of us. Some times people are born with plenty of these."


    Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School in Embu County, Kenya write:

    "The governments of the world should establish enough resources for the citizens to use in time of disasters for example drought, floods and war.

    Peace is the major virtue that can eradicate homelessness. The leaders and all people should embrace peace in their lives.

    The government should keep resources in nomadic areas. This is to curb homelessness. This will help them to set permanent homes without being at risk of migrating. Irrigation should also be embraced in these areas. This is to make the areas rainfall reliable."


    Ruwandi from St Anthony's Girls College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Some natural disasters that affect homelessness:

    • Droughts
    • Cyclones
    • Tsunami
    • Floods"

    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "Having more shelters and facilities for homeless individuals would help them to become more stable and get some of the help they need. Shelters can offer training and life skills that will help anyone who needs guidance in a specific area.

    Having more job options for people in these situations can help them gain skills, knowledge and the self-esteem they may have lost."


    Jeshajah from NorthGate College in Trinidad says:

    "It is not only one homeless charity that has a large impact on the homeless community but large amounts of charities and charitable actions which help to create a significant amount of assistance to the many homeless people, and charities like this can do a lot for them if they react correctly to it."

    What do you think? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Shaquille from Speyside High School in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies writes:

    "Joel must have felt disappointed, confused, overwhelmed, and a range of emotions. I have never been affected directly by homelessness, but I have a classmate and best friend that lost his home to a fire.

    "He had to struggle to find a place to sleep and clothes. It was a tough time. Unfortunately, there was little state or NGO support. Our school then jumped in and helped. Thankfully!

    "It was around his O'level exams that this occurred. We rallied around him and ensured that he got sufficient supplies. If there was no support from his peers, he could have ended up without good certification and in a long life of homelessness. That was averted."


    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "Homelessness is something that can be life threatening in any part of the world. We feel that especially here it would be an extremely difficult situation.

    "Over the past few weeks we have experienced a range in temperatures from below 25 degrees Celsius with freezing rain, rain and snow to a high of plus 10 degrees Celsius. This can cause a number of problems for people dealing with homelessness. Not having a safe place to escape from the cold and the elements can be dangerous in any climate.

    "The snow and rain have caused black out conditions and power losses that have lasted weeks in some parts of the country. Experiencing these temperatures without power is a difficult thing, yet the students agree that it would be almost too much to imagine living through them without a roof over their heads."


    Rebecca from NorthGate College in Trindad says:

    "Losing a home anywhere can often make people feel as though they have done something wrong or regret their life choices. Though his positivity shines through now, I can imagine that, at the time, he and his partner would have been stressed out. Though his case was not typical - they chose to be homeless - he would have been able to experience homelessness from a unique perspective."


    Paul Bogle High in Jamaica write:

    "We think that Joel might have been very disappointed when he lost his home. He was obviously afraid of the crime and violence and losing his life.

    Work placements and homeless charities help to provide alternative jobs until homeless people have settled in a home and to help them to become independent once more."


    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "As a group we feel that the stigma that is placed on a homeless person is one of the reasons that some of them are unable to better their situation, no matter the cause of their homelessness.

    "Society often sees individuals living on the street as problematic, unintelligent, scary, lazy or are simply addicted to drugs or alcohol. Battling the way people are viewed would be one way to help the growing number of homeless individuals and families."


    Pinecrest Memorial School in Bloomfield, Ontario, Canada writes:

    "There are lots of things that we can do to prevent homelessness. We can have programmes to help provide more affordable housing. Perhaps providing people with support in preparing resumes, and helping with securing a permanent job. Having funds available to support in further education. These are things that our governments can do to help prevent homelessness. As for us, we can do things like volunteer our time at shelters or soup kitchens to help provide some essentials. We can donate things like food and clothing to assist. Probably the most important thing that we can do is help to raise awareness of the problem both in our country and throughout the Commonwealth."

    Thanks for your comments!


    Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada ask:

    " What would you do if you saw a homeless person on the side of the road?

    Email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk to answer their question. And Caldwell students - what would you do?


    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "The idea of training and teaching money management skills at a younger age would also help individuals to not carry too much debt later on in their lives.

    "The cost of homes is increasing in our area and with a lower interest rate people are buying larger homes. Should the interest rates rise, some people may see their cost of living drastically change and this can lead to things such as homelessness."


    Paul Bogle High in Jamaica write:

    "To prevent homelessness emergency numbers can be displayed within the home, fire drills can be practiced at home, build strong family values where stable morals are kept and foundation for children are solid. Build homes in areas that are not disaster prone.

    "Home to us means a place of safety and comfort."


    Hillcrest in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada:

    "One concern we have in our part of the world is that winter conditions add an extra danger to being homeless. We have experienced temperatures of -40 degrees to plus 10 degrees yesterday. This is all in a few weeks. "


    Hansi from St.Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka says:

    "Even though there are a number of organizations who provide provisions for the homeless, still it is a problem that is increasing day by day. Having a home, being safe and secure is a must for human beings.

    I believe that the wealthy people who have more should help those who are homeless. At least they can give the homeless men jobs and try to make their lives better. They also should take care of that small kids who are homeless. I feel the best way to feel others' problems is to put yourself in their shoes.

    For a moment if we think that we have no shelter and protection, we do feel so bad and scary. Then think a moment how those people are living that life daily under the sky.

    So COMMONWEALTH COMMITTEE please take actions to put a stop to homelessness."


    Owen from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "The government should do more to build homeless shelters so everybody has a place to go when they are afraid, alone or cold. And more food should be provided for the homeless."


    Hansi from St. Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe and secure housing. Homelessness is spread all over the world.

    "Even though there are a number of organizations who provide provisions for the homeless it is still a problem that is increasing day by day. Having a home, being safe and secure is a must for human beings."


    Catholic School in Kingston Ontario, Canada write:

    "We believe that:

    • The Government needs to step in and help
    • More people need to become aware
    • There need to be more permanent jobs and less temporary ones
    • Make sure everyone has a job. Even if it's with the mini businesses
    • More shelters for anyone to come into and have a warm place to stay
    • Work places to help teach certain skills to know how to do a certain job"

    Brandon from Speyside High School in Tobago writes:

    "As in the case of Joel, home is very important to me. Home means safety, comfort, family and family relationships. It matters not how large or small or rich or poor one's home is, there is a sense of safety and belonging and ownership found in your own home. As in Joel's case, homeless people in my country are also forced to look in parks, garages and public spaces for safe housing. Here is where charities and NGOs can either provide homes, or employment for the homeless. Maybe we can adopt a strategy from a pilot project in New York where it was discovered that it was cheaper to give homeless citizens apartments than to use the police to round them up and house them in prisons."


    Louise from Cumnock Academy in Scotland writes:

    "If I saw a homeless person on the street, I would want to help them but to be honest I would probably walk by. I wouldn't ignore them though, I would probably give them a smile and keep going."


    Paige from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "Being homeless is extremely difficult especially around winter time and summer time because in the winter there can be snow and you can get hypothermia and various sicknesses and in the summer it can be super hot and burn and you can become dehydrated."


    Gagetown School in New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "Students at the Gagetown School feel that as a community we need to help homeless people believe that they are worth more than what they see themselves as."


    Banuja of St.Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness has become a serious problem all over the world. This problem is mostly seen in poverty stricken countries. Homelessness has negative effects on the lives of children. This condition leads children to become more vulnerable, probably due to the lack of love and protection. Sometimes the children are abandoned by the parents due to homelessness. Therefore the governments should take necessary initiatives to overcome this problem. Educating the public at ground level and providing assistance to overcome homelessness is of dire necessity nowadays."

    Do you agree? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Monique, Dayne-Michael from The British Academy in Port -of - Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "We thought the video put homelessness in a different perspective as to how it is typically portrayed. In Trinidad, homelessness is usually as a result of a lack of housing or drug/alcohol problems. In one decade, homelessness has grown by 13.4%."


    Chavar from Paul Bogle High in Jamaica writes:

    "In the world of homelessness like the situation that Joel is facing is a situation that one person cannot solve.

    "It is a problem or a world wide issue that everyone in the society needs to take a stand against and try to create jobs or build shelter to provide for them until they can stand on their own again. That's my view."


    Spencer from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "There should be more homeless shelters and food for homeless people."

    Rylan adds: "I think that the government should do more about homelessness then what they are doing. Why do people become homeless?"

    Bryce writes: "I cant believe that the government hasn't done anything to prevent this. Instead of firing people from their jobs, they should at least give these poor people a chance at getting their life back!"


    Pupils from Holy Name Catholic School in Kingston, Ontario, Canada have comments about how to help homeless people in extreme weather, they write:

    "Homeless people can suffer pretty badly in extreme heat and cold, we could -

    • donate clothes
    • have 24 hour shelters
    • have 24 hr open walk-ins to doctors' offices or in case of very serious illness, hospitals.
    • "Hotels should accept people that are homeless and not charge money. Living outside with extreme cold can cause hypothermia, numbness to body, and very serious illnesses."

    Joseph and Al from British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "Homelessness is a major issue in Trinidad and Tobago. There is a culture of assuming that all homeless people are afflicted by mental health and addiction issues. Until this is resolved there will never be a real solution to the problem in this country."


    Owen from Caldwell Street Public School on Ontario, Canada asks:

    "If a homeless person knocked on your door and asked to stay on a -20C night, shivering - what would YOU do?"

    email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Alexandra from Holy Name Catholic School in Kingston, Ontario, Canada writes:

    "Homeless people are not only adults they can also be kids. If kids are living on the streets with their parents they will have no education, food, proper clothes for the season. They will have no idea what it will be like living in a house because they live on the streets all their lives. I don't just feel bad for adults I also feel bad for kids. I find that very sad."

    Emma adds: "We think poverty is a crime against humanity, we think these are some things that might help with this issue:

    • More real charities that use the money for the actual issues (e.g. Salvation army)
    • More soup kitchens and food banks
    • More volunteers to help at soup kitchens and food banks
    • More donation boxes in stores used often
    • Teach more about poverty and homelessness in school
    • More fundraising in school"

    Cora from Rathen Primary School in Aberdeenshire, Scotland writes:

    "There should be 'Homeless Hostels' for people to go to in the cities."

    Louis says: " Build underground shelters in known disaster areas with accommodation for families."

    Aimee adds: "There should be children's centres all over the country where children who are being abused can go to in safety."


    Liza and Lilah from Caldwell Street Public School, Ontario, Canada write:

    We think that everyone should be accepted for who they are and what position they are in. If they are homeless or having troubles nobody should be treated like dirt. We're all the same. People should help others in need when seen. People should donate more to the food bank and donate clothing and money.

    Colegio Newland in Queretaro, Mexico Colegio Newland

    Colegio Newland in Queretaro, Mexico write:

    "Our biggest concern is children's homelessness here in Mexico, for example children live in the streets with miserable resources. They also suffer different sorts of abuses and lack any government recognition.

    "We can prevent by giving benefits to the homeless people, in case of the younger ones, or children give them benefits in exchange of studying. And in case of the homeless adults give them benefits in exchange of working on public projects."


    Eva and Amy from The British Academy in Port of Spain, Trinidad write:

    "We recently viewed the video of Joel on the website. It really affected us in not only a positive way but it also opened our eyes to the reality of young homeless people. In Trinidad, homelessness is a major problem. The majority of homeless people are ostracized and rejected by the general population because there is the perception that they are lazy, addicts, or mentally ill. However, we believe that they are wrongly accused of these things and are mainly victims of their circumstances."


    Colegio Newland in Queretaro, Mexico reply to Shamanei Primary School (1157), they write:

    "We think that the government do have the obligation of getting in charge of the homelessness situation at local level and later in federal level; but we also know that in many countries the government won't do anything for this world-wide problem."


    Noal from Caldwell Street School, Ontario, Canada writes:

    If a man knocked on my door when it is -20 I would give the man a blanket and let him in for hot cocoa.

    Thanks Noal - do you agree? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Hillcrest in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada responds to Holy Name Catholic School (1638) and writes:

    "Although the hotel idea is wonderful, it would be a hard conversation to have with the owners!"


    Alexandra from Holy Name Catholic School, Kingston Ontario writes:

    People who have mental issues and are living on the streets, those people can't afford health care and can't receive treatment. People who have a serious illness should not pay. They should stay with care until they are healed and have better improvement on their health. The government should bring a idea to have a rule to let people with an illness to stay in care.

    Hillcrest School in Moncton New Brunswick Canada

    Hillcrest School in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "Low income housing is being put into areas that are not always safe, and as much as people want to help out, putting low income housing in an established community often causes people to get upset."

    They add: "It is great to say we need more shelters/food banks, but who is going to fund them or run them? This is a point that is being restated time and time again."


    Sara from Holy Name Catholic School in Kingston, Ontario, Canada says:

    "We think homelessness is a crime and it needs to be dealt with in a serious matter:

    • Find Jobs/Mini businesses for the homeless to get them back on their feet

    • Have Flyers that tell you about upcoming available Jobs

    • Higher paying jobs

    • clothing donation bins

    • Build more affordable housing

    • Build recreation centres for the homeless.

    • Have bigger fundraisers for the homeless

    • Have more food shelters in poorer areas

    • Have volunteer nurses at homeless shelters

    • Make it a political issue

    • get volunteers for soup kitchen


    Students from Gagetown School, New Brunswick, Canada write:

    "We should really be asking the homeless people what they need?".


    Abby and Lisa from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada write:

    "I think it's really depressing when I see someone who is homeless because it makes me feel how lucky that I have a family, a house, food, water and more. When I see someone, I really want to give them something to look forward to like loose change or food or even better a shelter.

    "No one should have to live like animals and be treated like they're not important. But everyone is important in their own way and some people may be wealthy, but that doesn't mean they have the right to bring homeless people down. If anything they should be building homes for them."

    Paul Bogle High

    Ophelia from Paul Bogle High in Jamaica writes:

    In the Commonwealth countries, especially the Caribbean we suffer a lot sometimes through the hurricane season. At this time a homeless person is at great disadvantage, they are not catered for, they are normally put out of designated shelters by other families. In my experience, a homeless person is normally a mentally ill person. These persons are left to suffer during the adverse conditions. They normally seek shelter at abandoned buildings or even in person's home who left for emergency shelter. A few, however, are housed at the infirmary in some communities. Homeless persons are mostly affected after the natural disaster, they will get sick and suffer from diseases.


    Abbie from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "There are around 30,000 people in Canada who are homeless every night, and that's terrible to think of. But I believe it's even worse when kids have to grow up homeless.

    Kids are supposed to grow up happy and with no worries, but instead they have to do everything they can to get money, get food or stay warm."

    The British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

    Dayne, Mercedes and Monique from The British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "There are many ways in which we can try to reduce homelessness in our country. Free drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities could be set up to treat addiction. Mental illness is one of the main causes of homelessness in Trinidad as some families do not want the burden of taking care of a mentally ill relative.

    " A programme of mental health awareness can educate the general public and the existing mental health facilities should be improved."


    Amy and Eva from The British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "Homeless people are not inhuman and/or sub-human. They are just like you and I.

    "The prevention of homelessness would be a complicated process to achieve. Government funded buildings could be built as accommodation to the homeless. This may help them to start up their lives again. You can hire them with small, simple jobs that will teach them responsibility as well as make them feel important and capable of much more."


    Joseph and Al from The British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "The Government in Trinidad has taken some steps to provide care and shelter for the homeless and the less fortunate. This however has not really helped the homelessness in the capital city of Port of Spain."


    Tasha-Lee from Paul Bogle High from Jamaica writes:

    Joel must have felt disappointed, confused, overwhelmed and discouraged when he lost his home. I have never been affected directly by homelessness, but I know persons who have been affected and so I understand why safety was Joel's priority. Even though he didn't have a place to be secured and comfortable he didn't want anything to happen to him nor his partner .

    I believe that the main causes of homelessness are poverty, unemployment, natural disaster and fire. Therefore the government should take the necessary initiatives to prevent these issues.


    Indunuwan from St. Joseph's College, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is the main problem in the world as well as basic need for humans. Therefore every government should look in to this matter seriously. There are only two solutions to prevent homelessness.

    1) Governments must take actions to build homes for poor people and collaborate with NGOs and other social services associations.

    2) Governments and Banks should launch a special loan scheme and law rate credit facilities to people to build up their houses. "


    Kite from Bankys School, Abuja, Nigeria writes:

    "The way to stop homelessness is for the government to sell houses in much lower prices and give some to the homeless for free."


    Sara from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Nigeria writes:

    "To start with, it is the job of the government to care about the citizens and the problems they face each day. From my own point of view, a lot of people are suffering from homelessness because of neglect, ignorance or unemployment.

    "However, it is not only the fault of the government that people are suffering from homelessness. Influential people in the society should also take up the task of rescuing the homeless people around them.

    "It all starts with you to change and transform a society and save the homeless people around you."


    Jayden from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "I think that is really sad because if you think about it you should be really happy that you have a family and when you are in your warm house and its -25 outside just think about the people living on the streets."

    Jenna adds: "Homelessness is not just a joke it needs to be taken care of. People who are homeless are homeless because something happened like they lost all their money or did not have enough money to pay for their homes and were kicked out.

    "Some homeless people have mental health problems and can't take care of themselves so they end up without a job and have no money. The winters are very cold and the summers are really hot in some parts of the world for homeless people."


    Hamna from Viharamahadevi Girls' College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Though I have not suffered from homelessness, I have seen some of my sisters suffering from it. One of my friends had a mother who was coughing because of cancer and a father who had dementia. One time the father had chased my friend, her sister and sick mother out of the home. So they have been walking around the village throughout the night. Imagine the situation."


    Sannat Primary School and Special Unit from Gozo, Malta write:

    "There are lots of volunteers like a group named 'YMCA' to help these homeless people. We should help them! It could happen to anyone of us!

    "It could be you today or tomorrow!"


    Chisom from Corona Secondary School inAgbara, Nigeria writes:

    "The main problem with homelessness is poverty. This is when one does not have sufficient funds to provide the basic amenities of life. Another issue with homelessness is abandonment. Some people may not want their children or are not capable of providing for them so they just end up abandoning them, thus rendering them homeless.

    "Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, flood, storms, blizzards and earthquakes tend to wreck homes and destroy people's property, leaving them homeless. This could be prevented by people getting jobs, parents learning to take responsibility for their children and homes should be built with stronger materials to prevent wreckage from natural disasters."


    Shivanathan from St John's College in Jaffna, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Some people in Sri Lanka do not have houses because they do not have money and do not have jobs and we can give a job to build houses and some money and if we help those people our country will improve. I am not a homeless person - when I am going in roads I will see homeless people and I will be sad because they live in sun, rain, hard storms, earthquakes... they live hard lives."

    Dillion says: "We can give small jobs; give some money to find accommodation; we can share our home with them. The government can come forward to provide home for homeless people; We can accommodate them in hostels or temples. I can see them in the streets, and under the trees. Due to heavy rain their things can be destroyed by floods."

    L.Devin adds: "We and our house have not affected by any disasters or problems. But I have seen many people begging in the road without houses. Some of these people are ill. They have no money. Mosquitos and other insects bite the homeless people."


    Zoey from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada writes:

    "We think that the government should do something about homelessness because if they were homeless they would be in the same position, so if they do something about it like build a shelter, then if they become homeless they would have some were to go, eat, sleep and be provided with medical help."

    Pyper and Cassie add: "Some of the time people become homeless because their families don't accept them, but honestly everyone should be accepted for who they are."


    Lindsay, Alana, Byron and Britney from Rothwell-Osnabruck ES in Ontario, Canada write:

    "We should make more magazines and shelters for the homeless. We can make more jobs and healthcare cheaper. Also, we can make more things for them to sell and increase wages."

    Thanks for your comments! What do you think? email commonwealthclass@bbc.co.uk


    Aysha from St. Anthony's. Girls' College in Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is something really tragic. It can effect people to such an extent that it can be a cause for death and starvation. To prevent homelessness people should first think about the location where they are building their home. It should be a place which is less prone to natural hazards in that case. Because one of the main reason for homelessness are natural hazards."


    Sasmitha from, Trinity College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Obviously, homelessness is staying without a roof over your head. The mere idea of living without a place called "home", is terrorizing. No place to go to after a long day. Rarely having somebody to call as family. Fortunately, I have not been homeless. I cannot imagine how I will cope if I ever become homeless. But, there are people who face this situation everyday, day in day out. We should honour these brave human souls for facing these challenges head on and the best way of honouring them is by building them something to live under.

    "In Sri Lanka, still a developing country, there are quite a number of homeless people displaced due to the thirty year long war, but now the Sri Lankan Government has launched many rehabilitation projects. So, it is our, the more fortunate ones', duty to support these people stand back up on their feet.

    "May the homeless people gain happiness!"


    Sivakumar from St. John's College in Jaffna, Sri Lanka says:

    "I will give money to build house. I give a job. I love this topic because by doing this we can improve our country. I will work hard with my friends to improve it. But weather conditions are damaging the houses too. So I will try to help people. I like everyone to do this to help everywhere the people who are affected by nature."

    Muralitharan adds: I will give money. I will give books to the small children. I will give sports materials to the children. I will give food."

    Pupils at computers screens Pupils from St John's College, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

    Eamer's Corners Public School in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada write:

    • "Cities could build shelters for homeless people through donations of materials and labour
    • Educate the public on how to save money to prevent preventable financial hardship
    • Governments could raise minimum wage and create more jobs"

    Tobiloba from Corona Secondary School in Agbara, Nigeria writes:

    "I have not been affected by homelessness but I have noticed and seen homelessness affect other people.

    "Africa is where the highest population of homeless people can be found because all the attention is faced towards the rich people and the people in power while the poor/homeless receive little or no attention.

    "To stop the menace of homelessness, the Government at all levels has a huge role to play."


    Derrick from Sirende Primary in Kitale, Kenya writes:

    "Homelessness can be prevented by putting in place mitigation measures to cushion the people of this world in an unlikely sad event that they are rendered homeless arising from artificial or natural causes. People should get expert advice as to where they should build their houses away from fault lines, areas prone to storms, flooding etc. Leaders of the world should embrace dialogue to avoid wars and unnecessary conflicts. I have never been rendered or affected by homelessness. I don't long to be in such a situation "God forbid."


    Eamer's Corners Public School in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada have been discussing how extreme weather conditions can effect homelessness, they write:

    • "Extreme heat and cold can cause frostbite and heat stroke which can be fatal
    • Rain causes dampness which is hard on the body because it can lower your body temperature
    • Hail can hurt your skin
    • Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Flooding and Earthquakes can be especially dangerous if there is no protection from the elements."

    Grade 8 from Pinecrest Memorial School in Bloomfield, Ontario, Canada writes:

    "In our country we experience the weather of all four seasons. This year we experienced something called a polar vortex where temperatures were as low as -35 Celsius. In those conditions we were warned that our skin would start to freeze after five minutes of exposure. If a homeless person could not find shelter in that kind of weather they would not be able to survive. Just simple tasks outdoors could not be done. In these kinds of conditions clothing and shelter are so important."


    Emily and Emma from Caldwell Street Public School in Ontario, Canada write:

    "I think there should be more charities at schools and stores. I think teachers should teach more kids about homelessness to get more people involved. People should donate more used clothes, shoes etc.

    "We take a shower almost everyday and have clean clothes to put on every morning.

    "When the kids on the street wake up they don't have clean clothes. They live in the same clothes for months . Some eat once a day and some eat twice a week. They never have a warm shower and some don't even have cold showers. Lots of kids can't go to school and get a good education.

    "We think everyone should be able to have a home, food and live a healthy life."


    Hillcrest in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada writes:

    "Owen [1640] makes a good point, but it would be hard to make that choice on the spot. Some people have the option to house someone, but what if you have small children? There are a lot of unknowns that could impact our answer to that question."


    Amy and Eva from The British Academy of Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago write:

    "We all need to be more sympathetic to the plight of the homeless especially since living in the Caribbean, we are often at the risk of suffering damage from hurricanes and tropical storms. None of us know if and when our home can be taken from us as a result of natural disasters."

    Joseph and Al add: "The homeless in Trinidad and Tobago are considered scum. My mother winds up the window when homeless people are coming to beg for currency. The people in this country mainly believe that the homeless are in their situation due to their own life choices."


    Shazna from St. Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Homelessness is a world-wide crisis now which has become a major problem to everyone.

    "Homelessness could definitely be prevented by education. Educating people promotes hygiene and other necessary values which influence people to help the world get rid of homelessness for a better future."


    Daphney and Rachael from Kamuthatha Boarding Primary School, Embu County, Kenya write:

    • Homelessness can be prevented by peaceful politics which will not end with conflict after the results.
    • Land policies which are clear to the residents and proper documentation of land ownership eg. Title Deeds issued to all land owners.
    • Education for all people and create jobs to eradicate poverty.

    Noah from Gagetown School in New Brunswick, Canada writes:

    "The government should do more for the homeless, build them a building or a home. Some people who walk by them just don't care. You could give them $5 or $2."

    Alyssa and Emma say: "Why do people judge? We are ALL human, it isn't like people without homes have some kind of invisible disease. They are JUST likes us but, they don't have a home, some place to really call their own. Don't judge a book by it's cover, read it."

    Chloe adds: "every day people walk by homeless people and ignore them like they're not there. I think people who ignore the homeless should put themselves in their positions. If you were them would you want someone to stop and give you a blanket, food, shelter or someway to be warm?"


    Sewmini from Vidyadarsha Maha Vidyalaya School in Nochchiyagama, Sri Lanka writes:

    "My country is a developing country and also some parts of my country suffer with poverty. Homelessness is a tragic situation to our people. I think this is not only for us but also it is a problem to all the developing countries.

    To prevent homelessness the government provides free food and medicine to victims of homelessness. Also they have started some projects to settle those people in flats or houses. Also they have started rules to eradicate the street beggars and children. Homelessness can be prevented by giving funds to the poor and also engaging them into self-employment.

    I have lived with my parents since my birth. But I have seen a lot of people who are the victims of homelessness.

    The rainy season has started in our country these days. Now a lot of people become homeless due to floods. In my point of view, I can say the weather conditions cause the deaths of people and also it destroys their property."


    Maria-Pia and Joelene from Sannat Primary & Special Unit in Gozo, Malta write:

    "There should be Child Care Centres free for these mothers close to their working place. They can send their children or babies to these Centres so that these mothers can earn some money."


    Banuja from St. Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "It's so pathetic when people become homeless due to war. War is not their fault but they will become the victims. So prevent homelessness we have to put an end to wars as well. Manufacturing of weapons should definitely be banned towards that end."


    Niveda from St Anthony's College in Sri Lanka writes:

    "Without a home we can't survive because of sudden changes of the weather. In heavy wind, heavy sun, home is the only place to protect us. We could introduce projects for home shelters world wide for those who have not proper shelters to live."


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    Darshani from St Anthony's Girls College, Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    The tsunami on December 26th 2004 caused sheer damage to the houses in the coastal areas in some countries including our island, causing homelessness to humans as well as animals. Also the Katrina storm in America damaged a big part of the country.


    Nursabrina from SMKA AL IRSHAD in Penang, Malaysia writes:

    "Homelessness can be prevented if the government provided houses at low prices for those homeless people. They also should find a job to survive and have a better life. They must not rely on government so much because government also have many things to do with the money. The homelessness people must work hard to get a better job so that they could buy a house."

    Norlilawati adds: "Homelessness is a growing epidemic in Malaysia. Throughout the years, the rate of homeless people on the street has grown substantially high. Homelessness is a serious problem. It has many effects and even more causes. It can effect businesses, split up families, and also affects the health of others on the street. Having homeless people in the front of a business would discourage customers from shopping in that location. It can make the shopping experience unpleasant. Studies have shown that some shelters don't accept everyone."


    Matheesa from St. Joseph's College in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka writes:

    "I sometimes think homelessness is a result of a decision. Usually people choose their way of life. If they are courageous and have willpower they will anyhow fulfil their primary need like shelter.

    "I wonder whether it is a decision made by people on their own to be surrounded by comforts or being homeless and dependent? The weak people who can never attempt anything put their sole responsibilities on governments or third parties."


    Sanand from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India says:

    "There are so many ways in which you can help the homeless— by donating your time, money, or just by showing that you care. Help out at a local shelter by distributing clothes, serving meals. You also can donate directly to homeless people. If you don't want to give money, offer a warm meal, a gift certificate to a fast-food restaurant, a couple of bus tokens, or a bag full of recyclable bottles that can be turned in for cash. Contact your local representatives and push for new legislation to help the homeless. If we do nothing else, be kind. The next time we see a homeless person on the street, don't just look away. "Most of the despair in being homeless comes from being treated like you don't exist," says David Pirtle (from the National Coalition for the Homeless, USA). "If you see the same guy on the street corner every day, find out his name and talk to him. It might save his life."


    Dineth from St. Sylvesters' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "I have seen people volunteering to help homeless people throughout the country. It's amazing the way they spend their money, strength and time for a worthy cause. If we can get influence from rich people, more homes could be built for the less fortunate."


    Sanand from Jodhamal Public School in Jammu, India writes:

    "The two biggest factors driving homelessness are poverty and the lack of affordable housing. In 2004, 37 million people, or 12.7 percent of the American population was living in poverty, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Many of these people live from pay check to pay check with nothing saved in the bank. The loss of a job, an illness, or another catastrophic event can quickly lead to missed rent or mortgage payments and ultimately, to eviction or foreclosure.

    "Losing a job happens much more readily today than it did a few decades ago, when most people worked for the same company until retirement. The decline in manufacturing jobs, outsourcing of jobs to other countries, and an increase in temporary and part-time employment has nicked away at the foundations of what was once a more stable job market."


    Che from Speyside High School, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies writes:

    "I can empathize with Joel. I was homeless last year after my house was completely burnt. I was at school when it happened. I lost everything. I had to depend on extended family members for refuge. A prevention strategy for homelessness must be strong family ties and in particular extended family ties. This kind of support is important."


    Lindsay, Byron, Britney and Alana from Rothwell-Osnabruck ES in Ontario, Canada write:

    "We feel sorry for the homeless because they have to go through bone-chilling cold, sweltering heat, cold floods and horrible hail. While they fight that off sometimes they have no food, no water and no shelter. "


    Dayne, Mercedes and Monique from The British Academy in Port of Spain, Trinidad write:

    "A programme like the Big Issue in the UK could be set up to assist the homeless whereby they are provided with some means of making money on their own. People are generally reluctant to give money to the homeless here because of the fear that it will be spent on drugs or alcohol. Instead, people prefer to give food/clothing or other essentials."


    Banuja from St.Anthony's Girls' College in Kandy, Sri Lanka writes:

    "Merely providing houses to the homeless would not be sufficient. In my point of view, they should be prepared to stand on their own. If not the authorities will have to provide them with one need after another."


    Rebecca from St Mary's CEP School Folkestone in Folkestone, England writes:

    "My home makes me feel calm, happy and safe and is a place for my hobbies and just being with my family."

    Molly says: "I feel safe at home, it is warm and relaxing and I have a cosy bed to sleep in."

    The add:

    "We have all seen homeless people but they are nearly always men and usually have a dog with them. They don't want to take any food you offer them, they only want money."


    We're going to wrap up today's 'Homelessness' debate.

    Remember your teacher can download a Commonwealth Class certificate here.

    Thanks to all of you for taking part in today's debate.

    Join us on 27 February from 1100-1300 GMT for our next debate focusing on pupil councils.


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