How to help end homelessness this Christmas

Practical steps and advice from our charity partner, Crisis

Let’s be honest, 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Many of us have experienced hardships that have put ourselves and our families under unprecedented pressure. But, more than anything, this year has shown us how much we depend on each other for connection, hope, and support – as well as how essential a safe and secure home is for our physical and mental wellbeing. 

People experiencing homelessness are generally more exposed to coronavirus and other respiratory diseases such as COPD. For those sleeping on the street or in shared temporary accommodation, self-isolating just isn’t possible. Likewise, for those sofa-surfing or in night shelters, social distancing isn’t an option. And where people can self-isolate, the challenges of loneliness and isolation they face can feel even greater.

Sadly, on top of everything else that’s happened this year, there will also be thousands of people experiencing their first homeless Christmas. That’s a Christmas spent without presents, without family, without a festive lunch and without even a roof over their heads to call home. 

We don’t think that anyone should be homeless and alone this Christmas. So, we’ve asked our long-term charity partners and friends, Crisis, to advise us on how best to help those experiencing homelessness this Christmas. 

Crisis – the national charity for homeless people – offer a lifeline for those who find themselves without a place to call home. They’re committed to ending homelessness for good and to alleviating some of the pressures and challenges felt by those experiencing homelessness – especially around Christmas. Across December, there’d usually be a team of 10,000 Crisis volunteers working to bring joy, hope and a little Christmas magic to around 4,000 people who desperately need it. 

This year, however, will be a slightly different Crisis Christmas due to the ongoing risks posed by the pandemic. But they’re still committed to ensuring that nobody is alone this festive season. There’ll still be a (smaller) group of volunteers delivering food, providing access to much-needed advice and guidance, and hosting online health, wellbeing and entertainment activities. 

Wondering how you can support those experiencing homelessness during these difficult times? Us too, so we asked Crisis to outline some practical steps (below) for how best to help – from fundraising activities to spreading awareness.  

Donate vital funds

Whether you’re a ‘finished-by-September’ Christmas shopper or prefer to chance it on Christmas Eve, why not add Crisis to your list of who to buy for? A gift of £28.22 could help someone take their first steps out of homelessness – and would go towards food, accommodation, access to essential support services and some festive treats.

You can find out more and make a donation at the link here

Gift-in-kind

Crisis’s Christmas services rely heavily on donated items – we’re talking everything from shoes and sleeping bags to stationery and books.

It can be difficult to donate items in person at the moment, but you can donate remotely by organising a delivery – either by yourself or by (virtually) gathering together a group of colleagues or friends and donating as a collective. Crisis have created Christmas wishlists for the items they vitally need – and don’t worry if you can’t get out to post items. They’ve also got an Amazon wishlist where you can choose gift-in-kind donations that will be sent directly to the Crisis warehouse to be distributed among those who need them. 

Fundraise via online events and activities 

It’s going to be a different looking Christmas this year – and that means that fundraising is likely to take a different form, too. But you can still get involved with fun and festive fundraising events from home. Remember, even just £28.22 can support a person experiencing homelessness this Christmas. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Commit to the Crisis icebreaker
    Each year, hundreds of Crisis supporters across the country “brave the freeze” by doing a sponsored swim in ice cold water. With the recent lockdown announcements, for 2020 Crisis are hosting a DIY Icebreaker challenge, in which you can face the freeze at home. There are heaps of ways to do this, from committing to only have cold showers for a month to filling your kids’ summer paddling pool with ice and water and leaping into it. 
  • Take part in the 12 Days of Crisis
    This extravaganza asks us to take part in twelve days of fundraising. It’s completely up to you what challenges you set yourself and when you want to start it – you could either choose one activity and do it for twelve days, or do a different challenge every single day. And, of course, the more the merrier – so you could get friends, colleagues or family members to do it with you. 
  • Make it Crisis this Christmas
    Crisis have plenty of ideas on their website about how you can have fun while raising money. Their handy guide, Make It Crisis this Christmas, is filled with inspiration on hosting your own events (including festive quiz questions) as well as helping with practical steps like setting up a JustGiving page. You can even order a free pack full of posters, stickers, balloons, Facebook filters and Zoom backgrounds to make your Christmas fundraising that bit more festive.