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Crisis at Christmas 2023: how we’ll be supporting thousands of people to build a life beyond homelessness

Juliet Mountford, Executive Director of Client Services

Juliet Mountford, Executive Director of Client Services at Crisis, shares how we'll be supporting thousands of people this Christmas - and beyond. 

At Crisis, our mission is to end homelessness. And we know what works.

Looking back at Crisis at Christmas in 2022

Last year, we supported thousands of people experiencing homelessness right across Britain, including hosting hundreds of people who would otherwise have been sleeping out on the streets in hotels in London.

It was my first Christmas working at Crisis, having joined the charity in September 2022. I volunteered in the hotels, spent time in the day centres and went along to a breakfast for members in our Oxford service just after Christmas. I found it incredibly rewarding, building connections with people starting on a journey out of homelessness and with volunteers from all walks of life.

I was blown away by the breadth of experience of our volunteers – from students living miles from family at Christmas and putting their time to good use, to professional photographers, hairdressers, designers, medics, community organisers, people who had recently retired – the list was endless. What united us all was a shared belief that homelessness should and can be ended.

‘Demand for our services all year round is increasing’

But unfortunately, in these tough economic times, demand for our services all year round is increasing and, this year, we launch our Christmas appeal against the backdrop of rising homelessness.

Increasing living costs, soaring rents and a chronic shortage of genuinely affordable properties is pushing those on the lowest incomes further into poverty. More and more people are finding themselves without a secure place to call home.

The number of households in temporary accommodation in England has exceeded 100,000. Most recent Government figures show 3,069 people were sleeping rough in England on any given night in Autumn 2022 – up by a quarter on the year before, and almost certainly an underestimate.

This means that, at Crisis, it’s all hands on deck as we gear up for a busy Christmas.

What’s happening at Crisis at Christmas this year?

We anticipate that through our year-round services, hotels and health and wellbeing programmes, we will be supporting over 7,000 people this Christmas.

Across Britain, we’ll be delivering food and gifts to families in insecure, temporary accommodation. We’ll be hosting activity and wellbeing days and working with partners Specsavers and Vision Care for Homeless People to offer free eye tests and care to our members.

In London, we have secured 574 hotel rooms – more than any previous year – to accommodate people who would otherwise be sleeping rough. We started providing some of our Christmas services in hotels back in 2020 as part of our response to the pandemic and found it to be a really effective approach, leading to fewer people returning to life on the streets.

Last year, those who we were able to support in a hotel got a secure room for the Christmas period and access to dedicated help to find a long-term home. In one of the hotels, we managed to secure an extension which allowed us to work with our guests for longer, providing more intensive support right through to the end of January with input from our partners in the homelessness sector. One month after we closed our doors, 85% of guests weren’t seen sleeping rough in London.

Crisis changes lives all year round, not just at Christmas — and our specialist support for people during the festive season is often the moment that unlocks a route out of homelessness, for good.

Crisis at Christmas couldn’t happen without you

And we couldn’t do any of this without our amazing volunteers and generous supporters.

Giving to Crisis at Christmas, or volunteering with us, provides a lifeline to people facing homelessness over the festive season: a warm place of comfort, care and company. But it also provides a stepping stone towards a long-term secure home.

It provides hope at a time when things might feel hopeless, a sense of community at a time of year which can be isolating for many. And if we can support people through the winter – with food, care, tailored advice and help with a safe place to stay – we can help someone start to plan for life beyond homelessness.

Find out more about our Christmas appeal and how to get involved this year. 

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