This is a good time of year to think about those who aren’t lucky enough to celebrate Christmas at home. It’s also a good time to set some charitable goals for the new year and seek out a way to do your bit for your community and to help the homeless, whether that’s lending your time or expertise for charitable projects, donating money, or coming up with your own ways to help.
If this is something you’re interested in doing, here are some ways you can make a difference over the festive period — and also get to know some amazing organisations (and people) helping to alleviate homelessness.
1. Warm clothes in a backpack
Earlier in the month, we interviewed Benn Moore, a Londoner who pulls together annual clothes donation events for shelters in need of warm items. Before hosting these, Benn did his bit by simply adding a couple of warm items — like gloves or a woolly hat — to his daily bag and donating them to those sleeping rough when he passed someone in need. By getting into the habit of purchasing a few pairs of gloves here and there, and keeping a pair in your bag at all times, you can make small meaningful gestures. An alternative is adding a five-minute detour to your day and grabbing a coffee or hot chocolate to give away when you pass someone.
2. Beam Christmas cards
Our CEO Kenny Alegbe surprised the team this Christmas with Christmas card donations from Beam, giving every member of the team £5 to gift to someone looking to improve their employment prospects. Beam, winner of Europe’s Best Tech for Good, crowdfunds training for homeless people and supports them into stable, paid work. Their gift cards are a quick and easy way to send digital gifts to employees, clients or friends, or as thoughtful stocking fillers to put Beam on people’s radars and help the homeless with a charity where 100% of donations go to the people who need them.
3. Add Something to Your Christmas Gifts at Checkout
As you wrack up a present tab remember to try and add something at checkout to give to someone on your way down the high street. Again, warm things like gloves or just a gift to remind people who are marginalised that they are seen, and part of society. One of the harrowing things about being on the street is how easily you can be overlooked, not spoken to, ignored. Stop and have a conversation with someone on the street this Christmas, hear their story, exchange a few words, ask how you can help, be present for them and participate in changing a situation in which the physical realities may be bad, but so too are the psychological impacts of life on the street.
4. help the homeless with Crisis at Christmas
You could buy a place at a Crisis Christmas center. For £28.87 you can reserve a place for someone this Christmas and introduce them to the education, training, and support needed to help end their homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round services. You can also volunteer at one of the shelters on Christmas Day. There are a range of opportunities to suit your strengths, from creative roles, like entertainment, to hands-on kitchen work, behind the scenes admin or just being a great listener. You can apply for those roles — and ones throughout the year — at www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved.
5. Food packages
Another way you can help the homeless in your local community is by making (and delivering) food packages as a family affair, something which our founder does around East London. Task each member of the family with sourcing certain items for the packages — whether that’s the mince pies, a gift, a thermos, a pair of gloves — and meet up to put the packages together. Then find a time you’re all free, designate a driver and go around the area giving them out. This isn’t just a Christmas thing, there’s always a good time to give these out and you can really make it a family tradition that brings you together over something great.
If you pass someone sleeping on the street on a bitterly cold night — and you fear for their safety — now is the time to consider alerting the authorities. Streetlink is a service set up to help the homeless by enabling members of the public to connect them with the local services that can support them. Log onto the website to send an alert, providing details on where the person is located. Please note, if the person is under 18 — or looks it — the best thing to do is call the police who will provide assistance.
7. Money Talks
Saving that, donating is a fantastic way to help the homeless. Let your wallet do the speaking.
Enjoy your Christmas and do share if you’re doing anything within your community that you’d like support with by emailing our community manager Nana on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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