Winter is a time of year when many of us bed down and cuddle up in front of the fire, keeping warm in our homes rather than venturing out in the cold. However, the simple fact of the matter is that, sadly, this just isn’t a reality for many people.
Homelessness is a real issue – both close to home and further across the world – and those who do live on the streets are at increased risk when the worst of the winter weather sets in. So, what can you do to help the homeless in your own community this winter?
Understand the Issue
We regularly hear about homelessness in the news and on the TV, but this can often lead to us becoming desensitised and removed from the harsh reality of the issue. This winter, take the time to educate yourself and get to know the important facts about homeless in the UK – only then will you be fully informed and able to contribute towards helping these vulnerable people.
Once you are aware of the issues surrounding homelessness, it then becomes much easier to raise awareness of the problem. Contrary to popular belief, raising awareness doesn’t have to involve investing massive amounts of time and money, organising grand fundraisers or even giving any money at all – it can be something as simple as chatting to a neighbour or sharing a local charities updates on social media.
Treat them with Respect
Many people are guilty of walking past a homeless person on the street, ignoring someone asking for help or even looking straight through someone who is sleeping rough as though they just don’t exist. However, it’s important to remember that the homeless are people too, and they deserve as much respect and compassion as you or I do. Everyone has a story to tell, and there are many different reasons why someone may be homeless. So, this winter, leave your judgements at the door.
Do What You Can
If you are approached by someone on the street asking for money, you should never feel pressured into giving it. Do what you can, when you can – whether it is dropping some change into a collection box at the supermarket till or buying a hot drink to keep a homeless person warm in the cold winter weather. Everyone’s individual circumstances are different, and we all feel the pinch during the winter so it’s always important to give within your means.
Support Local Services
There are numerous charities and services around the country that provide support to the homeless and will always be grateful for any assistance you can give. Whether it is volunteering a few hours of your time to help out at a soup kitchen, donating to a local homeless charity or simply providing warm clothing to help keep people warm, there are plenty of different ways that you can lend a hand this winter.
Remember that You Can’t Fix Everything
Homelessness is a widespread issue, and while helping and doing your bit is great, it’s also important to remember that it’s simply not possible to help every single homeless person out there. Try to avoid getting bogged down in the scale of the homelessness crisis, and instead, focus on doing what you can to support the homeless in your hometown or local community.
Charity and generosity are deeds that should be practised all year round, not just during winter, so don’t be afraid to incorporate an increased level of awareness and compassion for those less fortunate as we welcome in the New Year. Let’s work together to make 2019 a brighter future for all.