The evolving crisis in homelessness and rough sleeping is getting more media coverage than ever as numbers keep rising despite the sterling efforts of charities and voluntary organisations. In October, the Office for National Statistics reported that 726 people died while homeless in England and Wales during 2018, a rise of 51% since ONS began recording this data.
Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, a charity tackling the issues around homelessness, said,
“It is heart-breaking that hundreds of people were forced to spend the last days of their lives without the dignity of a secure home. This is now the second year running where we have known the true scale of the human cost of homelessness, yet still the lessons from these tragic deaths go unlearnt.”
According to a new poll published this month by Crisis, more than three-quarters (76%) of people in Britain feel powerless to help people experiencing homelessness.
For almost 30 years, Cambridge-based Winter Comfort day centre has offered support to people sleeping rough, in a night shelter, living in short-term accommodation or vulnerably housed. It’s a lifeline of practical help for people who are in desperate need.
That practical support spans essential welfare services, including specialist project workers plus opportunities for learning and training to rebuild self-esteem for those most in need. A free hot cooked breakfast plus shower facilities, laundry, toiletries and clothes store are key in maintaining health and morale for rough sleepers.
It’s cold outdoors through the night at any time of year but during winter it’s a potential killer. That’s what was on TOG co-founder Gina’s mind when she was talking with our Partner Oase Outdoors.
As camping specialists whose brands – Outwell, Robens and Easy Camp – regard social responsibility as a core value, it was no surprise that they made a generous offer of practical support by donating sleeping bags. That offer took the form of 50 sleeping bags, sent to Gina to pass on to Winter Comfort. Plus some extra Wellington Boots that Dunlop donated!
Rather than arrange a delivery, Gina filled her car and headed off to Cambridge. The centre had arranged a day for distribution. A day that was also her birthday!
“It was a very different way to spend my birthday but far more useful and rewarding than many others. My sister Julia has taken part in a Sport Relief sleeping rough challenge to raise awareness of the plight of homeless people and it made a lasting impression on our whole family.”
Being Gina, she didn’t just drop off the sleeping bags but stayed on to meet people at the centre, hear their stories and enjoy a hot drink. She added,
“Homelessness is a tragedy and sleeping rough can be dangerous as well as miserable. I hope the sleeping bags will be of help on people’s journeys in rebuilding their lives.”
If you would like to support the initiative by Gina and Oase, then Winter Comfort has a Wish List on Amazon that you buy for and have delivered direct to the centre.