One of the best bits about the festive season is the winter feast – gorging on chocolate and christmas pud, stodgy spuds, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes to build up some fat that we will lament in January, but that will keep us warm in the cold months ahead.
For some, the reality is very different. It’s almost impossible for authorities to come up with an exact figure for how many people sleep rough in the UK. Thats partly because Scotland, England and Wales and London all record homelessness in different ways but also because in order to protect themselves, many rough sleepers hide themselves away in places where they might be difficult to find. This is especially true for women. We do know, that in Scotland 25% of rough sleepers are under 24 and in London 1 in 10 are under 25. 10% of rough sleepers in London were care leavers, and 8% were from a military background.
The most immediate and basic needs for rough sleepers include hot food and somewhere safe to sleep for the night, but homeless people struggle to access services, and so many need medical care or emergency dental care as well. This is where Crisis tries to help. Their Crisis at Christmas campaign asks you for £22.50 which will reserve one space at Crisis at Christmas and provides a homeless person with; a chance to shower, freshen up and get clean clothes, three nutritious hot meals including Christmas dinner, a health check and treatment from a doctor, optician and dentist, and an introduction to Crisis’ year-round services for training and support for the future.
If you can’t afford it, perhaps you could ask someone to donate on your behalf, as a Christmas present? I’d much rather that than yet another bubble bath set myself- much more festive.
You can reserve a place for someone at Crisis at Christmas here.
Crisis also need an army of volunteers with a whole range of skills all year round. From fundraising and retail workers, through to learning support assistants, dentists, hairdressers and lorry drivers – almost everyone has a skill they can bring to the table to help get someone back on their feet. Find out about volunteering opportunities here.
If you aren’t able to manage any of those things, consider buying a sandwich and a hot drink for a homeless person, and sitting with them while they eat it. For many homeless people, loneliness and isolation are major issues and can exacerbate mental health problems. If you can’t give anything else, you can give 10 minutes of your time to ask someone how their day is going. A little conversation could make a real difference to them.
Written by Victoria Pearson