And 90,000 children will be homeless this Christmas (figures from Shelter.org.uk). A hard hitting fact, right? So, whilst you’re planning on decking the halls with holly, preparing your Christmas dinner, and shopping for your family, it’s worth sparing a thought, or some food, or blankets for those who won’t have a home this Christmas.
A cause close to our hearts, saw our very own financial controller, Nicola Shakespeare, take to the streets the other night. Deciding that she wanted to learn not to take things for granted, she volunteered to sleep out for a night for The Society of St James, a homeless charity in Southampton. As Nicola points out, we take a lot for granted, especially at this time of year.
Nicola described her experience as extremely tough. Fivebars Mobile were on hand to provide entertainment until 11pm, but then it was time to bunk down and get some sleep. The reality, as Nicola explained was that ‘We were fortunate enough to have been under a marquee, homeless people do not. We also had nice, new, thick sleeping bags, again, the homeless don’t.”
But the hardest part of the whole experience was what came the next day. Despite the rain and the flooded floors, the lack of sleep and inability to keep dry or warm, it was surviving the next day. Nicola talked of her lack of energy, and how tired she was.
Overall the experience really opened Nicola’s eyes to the extremes that the homeless have to face. “We did it for one night and struggled. The next time I see a homeless person, it will make me think more as to how they got there. Spare change or a warm coffee might just help that person to get through their day and to focus on the night ahead.”
But the great news is, that this year’s One Big Sleepout raised over £10,000 – so, well done to all those who supported, donated, and who slept out, including Nicola.
Yesterday the hashtag #HousingDay was trending on Twitter, bringing awareness to the housing issues in the UK and those who have lost their homes altogether. With increased rentals and a shortage of social housing, it’s estimated that one family loses their home every 11 minutes.
So, the next time you walk past someone who’s homeless, think before judging. Ask yourself what led them to that place, and why they no longer have a home. A cup of tea, a blanket or even some food could change their day; you could change their day.
If you want to find out more about The Society of St James then head on over to their website. You’ll also find plenty of ways you can help and support this charity.