Buy a gift for a young homeless person this Christmas

A charity supporting young homeless people in Sussex has launched the Love in a Box campaign – for the public to donate thoughtful gifts to those less fortunate this Christmas.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 9:26 am
Updated Thursday, 10th December 2020, 9:30 am
Support the YMCA Downslink Love in a Box campaign, and buy a gift for a young homeless person in Sussex this Christmas

YMCA DownsLink Group, which supports 16 to 25-year-olds at risk of homelessness in Sussex, has launched the digital donation campaign where people can buy gifts for the young people. It could be something to help them pursue a passion or hobby, or something they desperately need; a decent coat, warm jumper or new trainers.

Usually, the charity asks the public to fill shoeboxes with gifts, but this year it's asking people to buy ‘virtual gifts’ and donate online, via the Love in a Box gift campaign. This means staff can buy personalised presents for the young people they look after. After such a tough year, the staff at the YMCA Downslink Group want everyone living in their 24-hour supported accommodation to receive a personal present, so they feel the love and care many, with supportive families, take for granted.

Bill, a young man living in 24-hour supported accommodation, explained what a difference YMCA DownsLink Group’s key workers make to him.

YMCA DownsLink Group provides a safe home each night to 763 young people at risk of homelessness

He said: “My favourite thing about living at the YMCA is feeling safe and protected. The staff have had a big impact on me, and I’ve had some really good support from them. They have been patient and accepting of me and my “luggage” (which is a lot less now.).”

Leaha, a young woman living with YMCA DownsLink Group, had a passion for football and wanted to play in an international tournament. Thanks to generous donations, she was bought a pair of football boots and fulfilled her dream.

YMCA DownsLink Group provides a safe home each night to 763 young people at risk of homelessness, and, of those, nearly 30 per cent are care leavers.

The charity’s work covers a wide range of areas including accommodation, mental health, housing advice, counselling, sexual exploitation, mentoring, education, training and apprenticeships. Each year the charity supports over 10,000 young people operating from centres in Brighton & Hove, Guildford, Horsham, Crawley, Worthing, Eastbourne and Hastings.

Staff at the YMCA Horsham Y Centre help residents get into the festive spirit

Last week, staff at the YMCA Horsham Y Centre were putting up Christmas decorations, and a couple of the residents helped out and were rewarded with hot chocolates.

Mel Haynes, deputy manager at the YMCA Horsham Y Centre, said: "Christmas can be a really sad time for some of the residents as they don’t have families to visit. We try and make it as special as possible for them and getting a present makes such a difference to them. It makes them realise that people do care about them."

Anyone can buy a virtual gift or donate as part of the Love in a Box campaign. You can also buy a gift on behalf of someone else, so it’s a great option for a secret Santa gift. It is also possible to specify which area within Sussex and Surrey you would like your money to go to so that you can rest assured that you are really helping a vulnerable young person living close to you.

To find out more, and to donate, click here.

Will you buy a young homeless person a gift this Christmas?