My dear old mum died at Christmas 12 years ago. I think I miss her more with every passing year.
I miss my brother, Simon, who lives in South Africa. But I am lucky. I will spend Christmas with many of those I love and, thanks to FaceTime, will share some of the festivities with Simon and his family.
But not everyone is that lucky. It is particularly difficult for homeless people over Christmas. They are reminded of all they have lost, not least home and family. And if they are street homeless, there won’t be decorations, presents under a tree, or festive cheer. There won’t be warmth, comfort and security.
Christmas morning for a person sleeping rough will be the same as every other morning – cold, wet, lonely. There aren’t gifts and, like every other morning, there isn’t a toilet, shower, kettle, or breakfast in the cupboard. The heating can’t be turned up a notch, and there won’t be the smell of a roast in the oven.
Far from it being ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, Christmas can be the worst of all times for homeless people.
Fortunately there are services open on Christmas morning where homeless people can go.
First Base Day Centre, for example, will provide a cooked breakfast. People can shower, put on clean and dry clothes, be warm and comfortable and for a few hours forget the daily indignity of living on the streets.
The efforts and sacrifices made over Christmas by staff at Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) and other organisations in Brighton and Hove cannot be over emphasised. They ensure that homeless people do have somewhere to go.
Fortunately, this year there is more emergency accommodation available, provided by the city council, churches and, in the most extreme weather, several charities, including BHT.
How do you feel about people being homeless at Christmas? Are you able to help?
The most immediate and obvious way is to make a donation to one of the organisations that opens its doors over Christmas. My job is to ask you to support First Base which you can do online at www.bht.org.uk or by sending a cheque payable to ‘’BHT’, to 144 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4PH.
But please remember that services such as First Base don’t just open over Christmas. We open throughout the year, offering all the facilities that homeless people rely on to sustain life and to maintain basic dignity.
Every week we help people to move off the streets and into accommodation, so that they don’t have to face another night, let alone Christmas, without somewhere safe to call home. We can only do this with your ongoing support.
Andy Winter is the chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust. To see the charity's Christmas appeal video, click here.
This article is the part of a series of Christmas features by Fugu PR showcasing the work of local charities.