November has arrived and for many, the countdown to Christmas begins. The John Lewis ad has aired on TV (and I am sure the Coca-Cola truck ad will no doubt follow soon, probably this weekend during X-Factor), supermarkets have several aisles full of things from Christmas themed food to decorations, both for inside and outside the home and the discussions over who you will spend Christmas with have started. If you are more organised than me, you will have started your own shopping. I know some people who have everything ready except for fresh food.
Christmas is a magical time of year however old you are. Whether they are four-years-old and have started asking on a daily basis “Is it Christmas soon mummy?” or older and help create the magic, it is difficult to not get excited. Heartbreakingly, for some 90,000 children Christmas this year, will be very different.
I wrote last year on Mummy Glitzer about Shelter stating that 80,000 children were homeless for Christmas; this year the figure is set to RISE to 90,000. I don’t know about you but I find it incredibly sad that in this country in 2014 the homeless figure is rising. While the government is funding expensive projects, despite the signs that such projects are failing and taking a lot longer to implement than planned (take Universal Credit for one example,), families are being made homeless. Furthermore, the amount of people living in poverty is rising as well, having doubled since 1983 (which was a recession year). If poverty continues to rise, it goes without saying that the amount of living in so-called temporary accommodation will also rise.
We have been there. We were made homeless in December 2012 and lived in a hostel until August 2013. We were lucky though because we had our own galley style kitchen, our own toilet (although a shared bath and shower) and own beds; I know others who have had to share kitchen and bathroom facilities with 12 people or more and who have had to share a bed with their child. We were lucky because I have family that loaned us the use of their house that Christmas as they were away. We were lucky because my family were in a position to buy presents for Cheeky Chap when we couldn’t. We were lucky because we got permission from the council to leave the hostel for a few days to spend it with family (for obvious reasons if you do not stay in your temporary accommodation, you risk losing it).
Tens of thousands of people are not so lucky and it is the children who are affected the most. As a parent I felt guilty about not being able to buy Cheeky Chap gifts myself or to decorate the room that we had in the hostel, I thought it was my responsibility to do all that for him. But thanks to my family, we had a great Christmas that year. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to not be able to do any of that for your child. To not even be able to cook a nice meal because you don’t have the facilities to do so (we wouldn’t have been able to have a traditional Christmas dinner in our hostel), to not be able to give just a few small gifts to your child.
Being homeless knocks your confidence, self-esteem and takes time to recover from at the best of times never mind during Christmas. And that is why Shelter have launched their annual Christmas campaign. They want to see a time when no child is homeless and they can only work towards that with your help. If you want to help people in need in a more immediate way, why not buy a few tins on your next grocery shop to donate to your local food bank (link is to the Trussell Trust but there are other projects as well, just google food bank in your area) or take at look at Refuge’s John Lewis christmas list and buy something for someone from there? Their gift list number is 609505.
So please if you can, consider donating to someone in need this Christmas and share this post.