It'll never happen to me

Imagine you're working hard forty or maybe sixty hours a week, and then suddenly you lose your job. Maybe you've done nothing wrong and your company is making cutbacks or they've realised they can employ a handful people on job-seekers allowance to do your job for free. This is just one of many possibilities of how someone could start on the road to homelessness. Unless you're extremely wealthy, not many of us can support ourselves with no money coming in. Some people find they can't claim benefits for various reasons or even if they can, they may have a mortgage to pay, which isn't covered by housing benefit.

It's far easier to become homeless in today's economic climate.

It could happen to most of us

Now imagine you are made homeless for any of the above reasons or some other reason. Of course, there are hostels, but with the increased numbers of homeless people, are they really enough hostel places for everyone? Hostel places are not unlimited. So imagine you have to sleep in a doorway every night and you think things can't get any worse, right? You would be wrong.

What else could go wrong?

On top of this you now find you can't sleep in that doorway anymore, because spikes have been fitted. So you find a bench where a police officer moves you along and pretty soon it's hard to find anywhere to sleep at all.

Even if you are lucky enough to have your very own doorway to sleep in, some sick individual may come along and set your sleeping bag on fire.

Even homeless people need to eat

Recent reports suggest that McDonald's allegedly don't serve the homeless people. They deny this, but Daniel Jackson claims to have been turned away from McDonald's on Oxford Road in Manchester for looking homeless (although he isn't homeless).

Charlotte Farrow claims she tried to buy a meal for a homeless man from the same McDonald's and was told she couldn't because they don't serve the homeless. The fact that a McDonald's in Leeds installed anti-homeless spikes would suggest the organisation does seem to have something against the homeless.

How cruel can people really be to those less fortunate than themselves?

Just last year, a couple came across a homeless man who was dying of hyperthermia. So did they help him? Maybe call an ambulance or get him to the hospital? No, they robbed him and left him to die. Whatever financial hardship they were facing, I'm pretty sure their problems paled in comparison to this homeless man's problems.

Just last week in Manchester, thugs stole a blind homeless man's white stick, not caring that their thirty seconds of amusement would cause much more distress to this man who had lost his sight, home and then his only means of helping him get around.

What can we do?

It's time to stop picking on people less fortunate than ourselves and to speak up when we witness this disgraceful behaviour.

It's understandable if you can't afford to give money or even if you're worried you might not be giving to someone genuine, but there is just no excuse for treating homeless people like anything less than human. Last year a homeless man helped a student get home by giving her what little money he had. If someone with so little can do something to help another person, then surely we can help people whenever we have the chance, or at the very least not make things worse for them. Treating people with respect costs nothing.