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How to help people experiencing homelessness this Christmas

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re counting down to Christmas (and a break from work/school/studies) and everything’s suddenly got a bit more magical. There’s mulled wine, festive pop ups and social events every night of the week, and we get to go home to our warm houses, snuggle the radiator and admire our Christmas decoration handiwork.

Sadly it’s not magical for everyone. Winter can be a particularly difficult time to be homeless. There are fewer support services available over the Christmas period, and the cold weather can be brutal for anyone living on the streets. Six out of ten people who are homeless experience loneliness and this can be more pronounced at Christmas.

Luckily we can all make a difference for homeless people, especially during the festive season – and it’s not as hard as you think. Here are some ideas.

Reserve a place for someone at a Crisis Christmas centre

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This Christmas, Crisis will bring warmth, companionship and vital services to homeless people, and a way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round services.

By reserving a place with Crisis this Christmas for just £28.87, you could help someone take their first steps out of homelessness for good.

Every £28.87 you raise helps to provide:

  • Health checks and treatment from a range of healthcare professionals including, doctors, dentists, opticians, physios and podiatrists
  • Advice on housing, employment and benefits
  • A way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round training, education and support.
  • Three nutritious, hot meals daily, including a delicious Christmas dinner
  • A bed for the night, if needed
  • A chance to shower, freshen up and get clean clothes
  • A warm welcome and good company.

Crisis' work at Christmas is just the beginning of helping people out of homelessness.

If you want to go further than donating cash, you can also volunteer for a number of homeless charities at Christmas. Crisis, Shelter From The Storm, The Whitechapel Mission and Salvation Army are good places to start (in London).

Connect someone to help

Streetlink is a clever app that allows you to send an alert about someone you might be concerned about who’s sleeping rough (in England and Wales), and connect them with local help services. It’s really easy to use, but you’ll need to give details of the specific location you saw them, what times you’ve seen them, and any details about their appearance.

Donate your unwanted clothes

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Got loads of clothes piled up in your wardrobe? Have a spring clean, and while you’re at it donate some to homeless people – in the colder months, your old jumpers, jackets, socks, hats and gloves could be really valuable to someone who’s sleeping rough with few possessions of their own.

The Salvation Army has clothing banks across the country where you can drop these off, or give them to a Shelter shop.

Donate sanitary products

Many homeless women face a dreadful time each month, where they’re forced to go without sanitary products. This is not only uncomfortable, but can be extremely embarrassing and represents a further loss of dignity for some.

Donating sanitary products is a gift that’s more helpful than you’d think – even if it feels a bit weird. Head to The Homeless Period for more information on their campaign to connect women with sanitary products, and find out how to get involved too – or just buy something for the next homeless female you see.

Have a chat

Sleeping rough is an isolating experience, made worse by the amount of people that totally ignore the homeless people they walk past each day. Taking a few moments out of your day to introduce yourself and have a chat can make a real difference to someone, and gives their mental health a boost too. So why not?

Enter Live Rent Free

This year we decided to make our much-loved monthly Live Rent Free competition even more special. We’ve partnered with Crisis to support their work to end homelessness - so each month, we’ll match our winner’s prize amount and donate the same sum to the charity.

You don’t have to do anything, just keep entering! You can feel great that you might not only win a life-changing sum of money, but you’ll be helping homeless people across the UK too. Enter next month’s competition here.

Photo credit: Kari Shea, Tom Parsons, Howard Lake

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