Wednesday 13 December 2017

Christmas is a time for giving - how about offering a #SafeChristmas for someone who needs one?

It’s freezing cold, there's frost/snow/slush on the ground, a chill in the air – and you’ve seen someone sleeping rough on the streets. So what do you do? Turn the other way and pretend you haven't seen them? Give them money, while assuming it will probably get spent on drink or worse? Buy them a hot drink and a hamburger? It's always a tough call, but Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity, have put together the following simple points to give guidance on how best to help young homeless people this Christmas. Latest figures reveal 16,000 young people will be at risk of homelessness this Christmas. Young people means 16-25 year olds. That's Sophie's age. The thought of her, or any of her friends, sleeping rough, worrying about which one of their friends will put them up for a couple of days or not having a safe place to spend Christmas is heartbreaking. It's so hard to know how you can help, but these tips from Centrepoint really can be used by anyone. Christmas is a time for giving and if you can give a #SafeChristmas to just one person, you'll have helped to make the world a better place.


Contact Streetlink

Streetlink is an app whereby you can immediately report someone sleeping on the streets to your local authority. You can download the app from Apple or Google – alternatively call the 24 hour helpline on 0300 5000914. Be sure to be as detailed as possible with their appearance and location to give the team the best chance of finding the individual who needs help.

Refer them to Centrepoint Helpline

Alternatively, if you know of a young person who might be at risk of becoming homeless, the Freephone Centrepoint Helpline is available for any young person aged 16-25 in England. Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm – call 0808 800 0661.

Many young people do not realise they are homeless. The stereotype of the rough sleeper in the grubby sleeping bag can lead young people to believe that their situation is “not all that bad”.

However, research show that sofa-surfing’ is incredibly common, with over two-thirds (68%) of homeless young people having temporarily stayed with friends or extended family (compared to 10% of the general population).

If safe, ask them if they are ok

The decision of whether or not to give money or food is always a personal one. However, a small act of kindness can make a big difference: even if you have nothing else to give, a friendly face and acknowledgement will always be welcome.

As a follow-on from this, if you feel someone’s health is at immediate risk, ring the emergency services, who will be able to help

Get involved with Centrepoint

Centrepoint is urging people to donate this winter; just £18 could give a young homeless person a warm, safe room, hot meal and support in rebuilding their life. 

This last point is something to bear in mind when buying Secret Santa or Christmas gifts - there's always someone who is hard to buy for because they seem to have everything they want, so it's easy to fritter away money on something silly like a novelty toy or insipid box of chocolates/biscuits. Personally speaking, I'd much rather receive a charity donation in my name and know that it's done some real good to someone, rather than receive something that will end up taking up cupboard space or being donated to the charity shop !

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