It’s the most wonderful time of the year – but for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities who are experiencing homelessness, there may be little to be joyful about this Christmas.
Fortunately, there are organisations working tirelessly to ensure people who are homeless have the practical and emotional support they need.
For the launch of the Herald and Gazette’s Christmas homelessness campaign, we turned the spotlight on Turning Tides – a charity providing crucial services to homeless people – to discover how they are making a difference this December.
Sue Stevens, of Turning Tides, said: “It can be a particularly hard time of year as clients focus on friends, family and relationships in the past and how they have got to where they currently are.
“We work with our clients to try to see the positives in that they are on their journey out of homelessness.”
Donations from the public are key to helping Turning Tides make Christmas a little better for those in its care.
This year, every client received a bag of gifts donated by the community.
Mrs Stevens said: “This makes such a difference as the clients realise that people do care about them.”
And it’s not just current clients who benefit – Turning Tides made sure people who have moved to their own accommodation, but whom still require support, also received a gift.
Volunteers from the community helped cook a hot lunch at the charity’s community hub in Worthing on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – and will do the same on New Year’s Day.
The hub has also been open as usual for breakfast, Monday to Saturday, from 9am. Here, people can get a change of clothes, spare food, sandwiches, breakfast as well as advice and support.
All of the charity’s residential projects were open as normal for Christmas with residents celebrating how they chose – whether settling down together with a film or holding a quiz.
For the rest of the winter period until March, 2019, the Worthing Winter Night Shelter will be running.
Turning Tides will work alongside Storm Ministries, which runs the shelter, to provide referrals.
The council will make the decision on whether it will need to introduce the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol based on the weather forecast.
If this happens, the Street Outreach Team will let rough sleepers know what help is available.
As the year draws to an end, Mrs Stevens had this message: “Turning Tides would like to thank the Worthing Herald and its readers for the support you have shown over many years.
“Together we can make a difference.”
Turning Tides has this advice for anyone wanting to help people experiencing homelessness this Christmas:-
- If you wish to support rough sleepers directly, see if they need food or hot drinks.
- Charities working with the homeless are always in need of support financially. Donations of goods or volunteer time are welcome.
- Check the outreach team is aware of a rough sleeper by reporting to Streetlink on www.streetlink.org.uk or calling 0300 500 091