• Helen Pritchett

Providing Help and Hope for the Homeless this Winter

2020 has been a challenging and difficult year for us all. As we approach Christmas, we are looking forward to the festivities that we are able partake in, but also taking time to think about those less fortunate.

For the past few years, CPB has supported a range of charities at Christmas. in 2020 we will not only continue this support, we have decided to go one step further.

This year CPB won’t be sending Christmas cards or gifts at all. We will be donating our Christmas budget to Help and Hope for the Homeless - a voluntary organisation which, since January 2017, has helped homeless and rough sleepers in the West End and Hertfordshire. Run by Shoshana and Lloyd Gilmore (and supported by CPB’s Luke Allen), Help and Hope for the Homeless supplies food, clothes, and other essential items to those that desperately need support, people that otherwise may be forgotten. Volunteers go out every week of the year in all weathers to offer support and solace to some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Help & Hope for the Homeless isn’t a charity but a group that just want to help people that are often marginalised by society and that can go unnoticed. Providing year round care is central to the organisation’s success at helping the homeless, as they are able to build up a rapport with rough sleepers, which leads to a level of trust and the ability to help on a more personalised level. Many organisations help over Christmas time but Help & Hope for the Homeless go out weekly rain snow and blazing sunshine.

​Building the rapport that they do through regular contact allows Shoshana, Lloyd and their volunteers to provide a bespoke service, asking all the people they meet what they need with the aim of supplying it to them, if not instantly, at least by the following week.

As a totally voluntarily run and funded set up, Help and Hope is always looking for volunteers to join its incredible team who donate their time, skills, and passion to help change homeless people’s lives.

Help and Hope not only provides essential food, clothing, sleeping bags and other essential items, volunteers are able to be on hand with emotional and well-being support. The organisation is also a conduit through which the homeless can access other advice and support. The website provides information on animal welfare, for those who have pets living with them on the streets, information on soup kitchens, shelters, advice for veterans and healthcare, including for those suffering from mental health challenges.

The Costs of Homelessness

The cost of a single person sleeping rough in the UK for 12 months is estimated at £20,128. If 40,000 people were prevented from becoming homeless for one year in England it would save the public purse £370 million. Research shows that effective early interventions reduce the personal and financial cost of homelessness.

Homelessness also has a human cost. The distress of lacking a settled home can cause or intensify social isolation, create barriers to education, training and paid work and undermine mental and physical health. When homelessness becomes prolonged, or is repeatedly experienced, there are further deteriorations in health and well-being.

People facing homelessness are hit especially hard by COVID-19. Many people who were already living with financial pressures are at serious risk of being pushed over the brink into homelessness because of the pandemic.

What Causes Homelessness?

People become homeless for lots of different reasons. There are social causes of homelessness, such as a lack of affordable housing, poverty and unemployment, and life events which cause individuals to become homeless.

People can become homeless when they leave prison, care, or the army with no home to go to. Many homeless women have escaped a violent relationship. Many people become homeless because they can no longer afford the rent.

For many, life events like a relationship breaking down, losing a job, mental or physical health problems, or substance misuse can be the trigger. Being homeless can, in turn, make many of these problems even harder to resolve.

Homelessness is Devastating, Dangerous and Isolating

1. People sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence.

2. More than one in three people sleeping rough have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence whilst homeless.

3. Homeless people are over nine times more likely to take their own life than the general population.

4. On average, homeless people die at just 44 years old

The life of a rough sleeper or a homeless person is one you might find hard to imagine. Learning about the work carried out by Help and Hope (and the any other fabulous charities that support the homeless) is sobering and emotive. It has made CPB sit up and think, to reassess its priorities both as a business and on a personal level. Consequently, in a year which has seen homeless figures rise dramatically due to COVID-19, CPB is committing its Christmas cheer to fund the provision of a little extra help and hope to those that need it, in what is sure to be a harsh winter on the streets.

If you would also like to support Help and Hope for the Homeless please click here to find out how you can help.

This Christmas, take care, be safe and be healthy.