By Siobhan McDade
Homelessness – a topic that is never far from the news or the streets. We all witness it, we have all dodged the charity street workers, and we have all heard the gloomy facts and figures but do we actually listen?
Despite the fact 40,000 people had to make homeless applications in Scotland in 2012, it is too easy to switch off and distance ourselves from yet more depressing news. This is why it is so refreshing to hear an upbeat story about homelessness.
After experiencing the effects of being homeless 26-year-old Matt Fountain, a Scottish university academic living in Glasgow but originally from Kent, has set off on a challenge to cycle nearly 2,000 miles across Britain in 36 days to raise awareness of homelessness in the UK.
The Cambridge graduate and cycling amateur spent five months of intense training which seems like a walk in the park compared to the challenge he faces in the aim to raise a massive £100,000 for Shelter Scotland.
A challenge worth conquering though as it is estimated that Matt’s ambitious target will help to keep 100 UK families at risk of eviction in their homes for one year longer.
Matt said: “I saw the effects of homelessness first-hand two years ago when my mother received a formal eviction notice to relinquish our family home within a matter of weeks.
“My family, which included my 11-year-old sister, were left without a permanent home and many of my childhood possessions and memories were lost in the process of the frequent moving.
“I want raise awareness of how quickly and easily this can happen. The money I raise will go towards supporting families that may be in a similar, unfortunate situation as mine were.”
Matt set off last Tuesday beginning his adventure in Portsmouth and will end it in Westminster on September the 3rd. But before that will pass through some of the towns and cities in the UK that are most at risk of eviction and homelessness, including Glasgow and Edinburgh. He is keen for people in Scotland to join him and give him that extra boost to the finish line.
Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “We are humbled that Matt has chosen to raise money for Shelter Scotland and thank him for his determination and generosity.
“Cycling 2,000 miles would be a challenge for most experienced cyclists, let alone someone who has never cycled before.
“We wish Matt the best of luck and look forward to cheering him on as he crosses the finishing line.”
So if the usual depressing facts, for example that in 2012-2013 there were over 18,000 children living in households accepted as homeless, aren’t enough to catch your eye then maybe Matt’s inspiring story will be. After all not all of us can say we spent our summer cycling 2000 miles to raise £100,000 for charity…
For more information visit Matt’s website: www.changehomeslessness.org
Or follow the campaign on Twitter @cyclingforhomes.