As well as this, I create an update for a child rights advocacy organisation each week, so they can pick up on all the latest news. Yesterday, I saw that according to the charity, Shelter, 80,000 children will be facing homelessness in the UK, this Christmas. I am so shocked by this figure. Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb said that such things should not be happening in twenty-first century Britain and that:
"No child should be homeless, let alone 80,000. But tragically, with more people struggling to make ends meet and homelessness on the rise, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help."
I have spent Christmas in some very different places, and each time I had the opportunity to be working with people who truly cared about children, and gave them the help they desperately needed. Without those inspirational people, those children would not have had a very happy Christmas. Staff running children's homes in Ghana and Romania made sure the children had a great day, with food, music, a party, and of course, a Christmas tree! An organisation in South Africa made sure the children who came to its creche each had a gift to take home for Christmas.
Last Christmas, I was in London, and I volunteered for Crisis, a charity for single homeless people, and helped at one of its shelters. Whilst homelessness is a huge issue all year round, there is something extra poignant about Christmas. It is not an issue of material items and presents. It is the fact Christmas is often a time that people spend together, and that is why it felt so important to be able to create a space where people could do just that, at one of Crisis's shelters. The guests could eat a Christmas meal and do various activities, like art, watching films, and playing games. Crisis also looks to the future - there were services at the shelter, from hairdressing, to help with putting CVs together, and getting free legal advice. People have been able to turn their lives around using these services. (Some of my fellow volunteers were once guests at a Crisis at Christmas shelter.)
I have seen that some people seem to truly believe in the 'spirit of Christmas' and want to help others in need, and I am so lucky to know people like that. It has also been such a positive experience to volunteer over Christmas, and I would definitely recommend it. For anyone who might want to make a donation instead, Crisis and Shelter both do great work!
Some of my Christmas photos!
|Christmas party and a visit from Santa arranged for the children at the home, Casa Mea|
|Helping to take some of the younger children at Casa Mea to see the big Christmas tree in the nearest city!|
|With the tree, and then dancing on Christmas Day, at New Life|
|Christmas play, by children at Seawind Educare|