Crisis at Christmas
Christmas can be a lonely time for the homeless
by Rebecca Parkinson (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To consider the issue of homelessness, with special emphasis on the work of Crisis, the UK charity for the homeless.
Preparation and materials
Have available your selection from the following images – one or more of each – and the means to display them during the assembly:
- a bungalow, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jdoxvum
- a semi-detached house, available at: http://tinyurl.com/ncgyrp9
- a block of flats, available at: http://tinyurl.com/h9rrwut
- a mud hut, available at: http://tinyurl.com/jq4kovf
- a caravan, available at: http://tinyurl.com/hohr7fx
More information about Crisis is available at: http://www.crisis.org.uk/
Information about ways to support the work of Crisis at Christmas is available at: http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/christmas.html
Information about foodbanks is available at: http://www.fareshare.org.uk/
Show the images of houses and ask the children to name each type of house. Point out that all of the houses are different, but they are still home to somebody. Ask the children if they can think of any other types of house that someone may live in, anywhere in the world.
Explain that everyone’s home has something special about it. Ask the children to share something they particularly like about their own house or the house of someone close to them.
Remind the children that Christmas is getting nearer! Ask what changes are seen in our houses, outside our houses and in gardens in the weeks leading up to Christmas. (Examples include a Christmas tree, decorations and lights.)
What changes are there to our houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? (Examples include hanging up stockings or pillowcases, presents, Christmas food, crackers, fancy hats, visitors and party games.)
Now ask the children what they think it would be like if they had no home to live in, no one to make their food, no one to talk to at Christmas and no one to give presents to.
Explain that, in the UK, there are thousands of people who have no homes to live in. Some of these homeless people sleep on benches in parks, or in shop doorways. Some move from town to town to find shelters they can sleep in.
There are several charities that try to help these people and Crisis is one of the largest. Crisis has two aims: first, to help prevent people becoming homeless, and second, when people are homeless, to transform their lives by helping them get jobs and find places to live.
Explain that, for homeless people, Christmas is a particularly sad time. While most of us are enjoying time with our families, homeless people can feel especially lonely. This is why Crisis runs a special project called Crisis at Christmas, which is for homeless people in various parts of the UK.
Crisis at Christmas provides food, warmth, advice and friendship along with access to dentists, opticians, healthcare specialists, hairdressers and so on.
This year, preparations are being finalized for nearly 3,000 people to spend Christmas week (from 23 to 30 December) at seven Crisis centres. This costs a great deal of money and requires many volunteers, but it enables many homeless people to have a happy Christmas.
If appropriate, you may like to explain that there will be an opportunity to help the work of Crisis. Alternatively, you might like to contribute to the work of a local foodbank – most towns now have one (see http://www.fareshare.org.uk/).
Time for reflection
Ask the children to close their eyes and think about their favourite part of Christmas.
Pause for reflection.
How does that make them feel? (You may like to ask the children to show how they feel in a simple action or expression – while everyone keeps their eyes closed!)
Now ask them to imagine a Christmas where they are alone with no one to care for them. (You may like them to show this in some way.)
Thank you for our families and those who care for us.
Thank you that we have homes to live in where we can be safe and warm.
We pray for people who are homeless.
Please be with charities like Crisis as they try to make Christmas a happier time for homeless people.
‘When I needed a neighbour’ (Come and Praise, 65)
‘Standing in the rain’ (Come and Praise, 125)