With Christmas approaching and the cold weather setting in, our thoughts turn to those less fortunate. It is estimated that over 4,000 people are sleeping on England’s streets every night, an all too common sight in London, Victoria. Spending nights outside can lead to many issues, some of which are frostbite, hypothermia, severe illness and depression. You’ll be pleased to know that the local authority work with plenty of charities to help improve this situation, and the charities are inviting donations and volunteers to help.
StreetLink is a charity locating rough sleepers and connecting them with local services. You can help by alerting StreetLink to people you see on the street via their website. Giving details such as location, a description of the individual and the times you see them there can help take someone from sleeping on the street to getting them back on their feet.
The Passage, based in Victoria, is a charity helping the homeless this winter. Josh Brown, Community Liaison Coordinator, acts as the link between businesses and service providers, ensuring homelessness is reduced in the Victoria area. He works with The Passage and VBID, getting business support for helping people off the street as quickly as possible. The longer people spend sleeping rough, the higher the possibility of them contracting a physical or mental illness, an addiction, or struggling with the transition back into society. Josh informs us that Westminster has 2,000-plus people who sleep on the streets every year, the highest number in London.
In the last year the Passage has found work for more than 150 people in the area, and continue to work towards increasing this number, but cannot do this alone. Charity starts at home, and by donating, having your business sponsor or host a fundraising event, or completing a sponsored challenge, you can help contribute to the vital work that The Passage does in Victoria.
Another charity providing help to the homeless is Crisis, which helps members of society through education, training and support with housing, employment and health. This Christmas they are running events which require volunteering support and sponsorship. Signing up to volunteer at these centres includes committing to only two shifts and the chance to help someone get back on their feet.
There are five residential centres open twenty-four hours a day, providing meals and sleeping facilities: The Outreach Rough Sleepers Centre is for when there has been a referral made by an outreach worker. The Link Rough Sleepers Centre caters to guests not linked in with year-round services, whilst the Winter Rough Sleepers Centre is for guests referred by Winter Night Shelters offering temporary accommodation in churches. The Gate Rough Sleepers Centre works with guests who have alcohol or drug dependencies, and the Women’s Rough Sleepers Centre invites vulnerable women to have a safe place to sleep on cold winter nights. These centres are dependent on volunteers aiding the incredible work they do.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, there are plenty of other ways to help Crisis this Christmas. If you can run a yoga or arts and crafts class, can prepare food or give haircuts, teach IT skills, have a talent or skill you can impart, or simply listen to someone, then there are ways you can help at Crisis by volunteering. You can even encourage people to sponsor you for your voluntary work, not only giving Crisis your time but helping with donations as well. Find out more about how you can help Crisis at this time of year by visiting their website.
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