Twitter and Homelessness

Being homeless robs people of their voices to the point that they resort to standing on corners holding signs, or dying in silence. Without the ability to ask for help – it is hard to receive help. And trust me, ending your own homelessness is almost impossible to do alone.

 

But, being homeless isolates you.  If you are not living in a large shelter, you are not likely to meet other homeless folk or the service providers who can assist you. It is a dirty secret you don’t want to tell your co-workers friends, or even family about. The truth, however, is that you are NOT alone. People are living  in RV’s in Venice CA and in every WalMart parking lot I have seen. Families are “couch surfing” and spending partial weeks at one friend’s home and a few days in other places.  Adults and children are living in cars,  alleys and church pews.

Being homeless and poor makes meeting service providers difficult. Actually, even knowing to whom and where to turn is often a mystery. When you did not need a food pantry – you simply never thought about where they are unless you were the sort who donated to them.

ENTER TWITTER

  1. Twitter is Free
  2. Twitter is easily accessible -by phone or library computer
  3. Twitter is searchable
  4. Twitter connects you to people and companies
  5. Twitter is portable
  6. Twitter is 24 hours a day
  7. Twitter is populated by Service Orgs and People just like you
  8. Twitter allows you to suggest users to “follow”
  9. Twitter gives you a conversation space
  10. Twitter is international

 

Basically, Twitter helps you find and build your own community. I have also seen it used to end homelessness.

I am a Welfare social worker and a volunteer at shelters. Twitter gives me a conversation where I have the answers and can ask the questions. I am reachable to people who are not my clients and freely give advice and direct them to answers and resources. Of course, I find many resources through Twitter itself. As a volunteer, I vet the agencies I give my time at, and clothing and efforts to. I read their tweets and know when they need volunteers to serve meals, walk around and hand out waters, or are having fundraising dinners.

A good Twitter account makes connections. It is excellent outreach and advertizing for services and products for the well off and the impoverished. Sometimes I think of it as a portable Yellow Pages.

But, Twitter only works if you use it. As wonderful a resource, community and tool as it is to the poor – if they are not introduces to it and shown how to use it – it is wasted.

Fortunately there are projects like WeAreVisible.com ( @wearevisible on Twitter) that give basic instructions and introduction to social media platforms like Twitter, FaceBook, Blogging at places like WordPress (this is a WordPress Blog).

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