It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re counting down to Christmas and with it now being the end of November there’s no doubt everything’s suddenly got that little bit more magical. Although it’s a busy time of year, I can’t help but enjoy the thought of mulled wine, winter wonderland, endless Christmas parties and then get to go home to our cosy houses with a wee tea watching your favourite Christmas movie (The Polar Express to be exact).
But sadly, it’s not so magical for everyone. Not having a home or stability is difficult at any time of the year however Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for anyone rough sleeping. When the temperature drops, living rough can be freezing and a very lonely experience, and with that being hard enough there’s still the danger that comes on the streets during party season in terms of drunk passers-by. Overall, it’s a seriously bleak situation. Homelessness is a stressful, lonely and often traumatic experience, which has a major impact on both mental and physical health.
Luckily, you can make a difference for those experiencing homelessness, especially during the festive season, and it’s not as hard as you think! All around Scotland, and especially in our main cities Edinburgh and Glasgow, there are lots of charities that help to make the lives of those struggling, that little bit better not just at Christmas but all year round.
• Volunteer throughout the Christmas period doing activities like playing games, giving out food and simply just having a chat with the guests, with charities like Crisis and Fresh Start (https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/christmas-volunteering-edinburgh/ ) (https://www.freshstartweb.org.uk/volunteer)
• Donate through companies like Shelter Scotland who provide shelter for people sleeping rough on the streets and Simon Community Scotland who offer a wide range of services, including a Street Team who walk the streets every day offering food and other provisions.(https://scotland.shelter.org.uk) (http://www.streetwork.org.uk/staywarmstaysafe/)
• Take part in a Sleep Out- This years sleep out takes place in Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh on the 7th December 2019. This is where members of the public come together and sleep outdoors for the night with no shelter, only a sleeping bag, in order to raise money and help those that need it. (https://www.bigsleepout.com/join-a-sleep-out/edinburgh)
• Buy a Bed- The Bethany Christian Trust has set up for the third year in a row the chance to buy a £21 voucher for a warm bed and food for the homeless at the Edinburgh Care Shelter. (https://www.bethanychristiantrust.com/support-work/buy-a-bed/)