For most of us, winter is a bit of a rollercoaster. You have all the excitement in the run-up to Christmas: all the presents, the partying and the time spent with your closest friends and family. Then you’re hit with a couple of months of dropping temperatures, the January blues and our bank balances hitting an all-time low.
Now imagine what all of these impending factors would be like if you were homeless while battling the blistery winter weather in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Homelessness is rising at a drastic rate, so to help you do your bit this winter, we’ve rounded up 10 ways to help make a difference.
Download The StreetLink App
It’s difficult to know what to do when you see someone sleeping rough. It’s heart-wrenching, especially if it’s continually night after night and you don’t know where the nearest shelter is. StreetLink has been designed so you can let them know about someone sleeping on the streets, and a member from a local outreach service or authority will help them give them the support they need. It’s incredibly important to note, however, if you think the person concerned is under 18, do not contact StreetLink and contact the police directly.
Ten years since they founded, Calling London’s Coat Drive is still in top gear as they collect your top gear to distribute to the homeless. They’re after warm coats to give to those who need them the most, London’s homeless facing a freezing winter ahead.
Help Feed London’s Rough Sleepers With CLRSC
Food. There’s no denying we all take it for granted, whether it’s snacking when we’re not even the faintest bit hungry or over-ordering on Deliveroo, but not everyone has the privilege. Helping to tackle this problem is The Central London Rough Sleepers Committee (CLRSC), which was set up to provide a safe and friendly environment for rest, food and conversation to the vulnerable in Central London. Now in its eleventh year, CLRSC holds events every two weeks, run by volunteers, offering the vulnerable warm two-course meals.
Volunteer At Crisis At Christmas In London
Forget indulging in a tub of Celebrations and Love Actually this festive season; help make a change and volunteer with Crisis at Christmas. Whether you’re a night owl or creative and have a passion for catering or hairdressing, maximise your skills and help make someone’s Christmas. You can also donate to Crisis – just one of many ways you can give back this Christmas.
Join City Harvest
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to tackle our food waste problem. Go the extra mile and donate surplus food to City Harvest. These guys collect surplus food from restaurants, grocers, wholesalers, hotels and caterers and redistribute to 240 organisations. To date, they have rescued 3,000 tonnes of surplus food, which is the equivalent of £9 million of free food or 7 million meals for the hungry.
Help Out at Shelter From The Storm
Shelter from the Storm is a free homeless night shelter that provides beds, dinner and breakfast for 38 homeless people every night. Open all year round, they provide a warm bed and breakfast, a hot evening meal, showers, laundry, counselling, a legal clinic and English lessons for those who need it. You can help do your bit by donating money or volunteering to help run the shelter.
Volunteer At Compliments Of The House
On a mission to create a hunger and waste-free Britain, Compliments of the House helps nourish the vulnerable through food and company. The food is donated by their food donors, and it’s then brought to be shared with the community at their dedicated hubs.
Just talking can make all the difference. Liam Geraghty at The Big Issue writes: “Homelessness puts an enormous strain on mental health with long hours of loneliness and sleep deprivation… some simple talk or even just asking a personal question can make all the difference.” Stop and chat next time you buy The Big Issue, or offer to buy someone a hot drink or warming soup.
Get Involved With The Pavement Magazine
The Pavement Magazine works to keep the homeless community informed about the services and issues affecting them, including where to go to get warming food and laundry done, as well as providing information about where to get legal and medical support and a whole host of other services. If you’re a journalist with time to spare, help write and research stories for the magazine or website.
Donate Hygiene Products
Basic hygiene products are something we’re all guilty of taking for granted, and it’s so easy to forget how integral they are to our daily lives, personal hygiene, and how they even help boost our self-esteem. With over 828 drop-off points and over 800,000 products distributed across the UK, The Hygiene Bank are on a mission to help fight hygiene poverty by collecting and redistributing donated toiletries, hygiene and personal care products to charities, voluntary organisations and schools. Find out where your local drop-off point is here.