Imagine not having anywhere to go for Christmas. No family, no friends to turn too, and no home. Imagine a homeless Christmas.
For most of us, the festive season offers a chance to relax, spending time being surrounded by loved ones and eating mountains of warm, mouth-watering food. Unfortunately, for thousands of others Christmas merely underlines the desperate and dire situation they find themselves in.
These unfortunate homeless people have no warm homes where they will feel safe and loved, no great feasts to enjoy and no feeling of joy that the season should bring.
While we are out at Christmas parties and spending money on lavish gifts for all our loved ones, the homeless amongst us will be thinking simply where their next meal will come from and where they might be able to sleep to escape the bitter cold of the winter. A cardboard box, a small space under a bridge or sparse space between a doorway may be the only protection from wind that a homeless person experiences this Christmas. A safe home may be impossible to imagine for someone who has no recent memory of what it feels like to be indoors, safe and looked after.
Very different from the lavish and luxurious lives that many of us live in comparison. Over the previous two decades, the number of homeless people has risen within the United States, despite a renewed national focus on homelessness. Our nation should be commended for a strategy of enhanced provisions for homeless people coupled with affordable housing, however this may take many years to bear fruit, and in the meantime it is up to us to make the effort to ensure we make a difference this Christmas.
The homeless need our help now; they cannot wait until we have our resources ready. They cannot wait a few years until they fit within our well-planned lives. Their needs are very real and urgent, and they need our help today. Their needs are so far from our realities that even the slightest gift of kindness will be received with much love.
The very basic principles we take as human rights, such as access to warm water, clean clothing, and safe shelter are just a dream for many homeless people. Think about that the next time you take a shower, get changed in the morning, or even eat a quick snack. The very basic luxuries you enjoy are surely what homeless people should be entitled to also, especially over Christmas, the season of giving.
Ask yourself, If the festive season is a time where even the most vulnerable are loved and shown affection, who will look after the homeless this Christmas? Who will help make a difference and give the homeless the strength, encouragement and support they need to step out of the life they have been dealt?
Working with some of the most needy and vulnerable people in society, homeless charities offer, much more than simply a roof over a homeless persons head. Shelters that have been working with homeless people are in the best position to help homeless people with many of the other unseen consequences of living on the streets, such as, the mental health and well-being of a homeless person, perhaps escaping alcoholism and drug misuse and of course the encouragement and support to help rebuild their lives.
Volunteering or donating towards your local homeless center this Christmas is possibly the most meaningful gift you can give this festive season. Your offering will be felt by people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to feel any part of this special season, and by volunteering in person you will be showing not only that some people really do care, but also helping to bring back the true spirit of Christmas to those who need to feel it the most.