Communication is the core of all human connection, from touch to words we all crave the deeper contact with one another, with loved ones or complete strangers. Imagine what could happen if seven people started a conversation with one homeless person every day. Take those 49 different conversations and see the ripple effect in one week; 49 different opportunities where maybe one of those people could help or impact a person living on the streets.
No one conversation will end homelessness but as individuals, we have no idea of the potential we have to help someone until we bridge the gap and listen. It’s something we’ve lost touch with as a society in general, where human connection and storytelling have lost value amongst the noise.
Stories are what bring us together, at lunch, over a coffee or a moment on the street. At the heart of what we do, we believe communication plays a huge role in ending homelessness. Behind the clothing, in the giving we encourage interaction, to get to know those who are homeless in their city and providing a safe space for sharing. It starts with saying hello, checking in on their day, maybe asking their name and seeing where the conversation leads.
We always get asked, ‘How do you start a conversation with someone living on the streets?’ The biggest thing we’ve learned since starting OutsideIn is that communication is really about breaking down barriers, less about what you say and more about the action which stands out amongst the rest. That’s where the Wear One Share one model comes into play, an ice breaker, a tool and resource to begin the conversation. What’s important is finding those connection points and like anything, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
As the name suggests, at OutsideIn our focus is on bringing those on the outside of society, in. The thing is, every story is different and how this focus is executed looks totally different for each person. Without that communication, listening to their stories and listening to their needs, we can’t fully understand how we can best help them.
The more we get to know those living on the streets and understand the extent of their stories, the more we can help those who are homeless uniquely to their needs. There and then the answer might look like simply offering words of encouragement to keep going, to keep fighting.
We know that ending homelessness altogether will take much more than a conversation, communication plays a vital role in the overarching goal. As human beings, we require connection and especially when life gets tough, we need people around us who are positive, encouragers, who are actively fighting our corner. You could be that person for someone living on the street even if only a 20-second conversation. That 20-second connection has the potential to change their whole day, a change of energy, of positivity and hope.
Who are you going to stop and stay hello to?