Crisis at Christmas
The UK charity Crisis helps the homeless at Christmas
by James Lamont (revised, originally published in 2010)
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To use the work of Crisis to encourage us to consider the importance of helping and giving at Christmas time.
Preparation and materials
More information about Crisis is available at: http://www.crisis.org.uk/index.php
Information about foodbanks is available at: http://www.fareshare.org.uk/
Optional: you may wish to play the song ‘Another day in paradise’ by Phil Collins, in which case you will also need the means to do so. It is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt2mbGP6vFI and is 4.49 minutes long.
Optional: you may wish to show the YouTube video ‘Crisis at Christmas 2015’, in which case you will also need the means to do so. It is 3.20 minutes long and is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97pWULAzXw4
Crisis is a charity that helps single homeless people throughout the UK, providing them with shelter or help with finding secure accommodation or work.
Despite the attempts by successive governments to ensure that there is broad welfare provision from cradle to grave, there are still thousands of homeless people on the streets of the UK. This is only expected to get worse, given the poor state of the economy and cuts to housing benefit. There is not enough social housing, and families have priority, making it even harder for single homeless people to find somewhere to live.
Crisis is particularly busy around Christmas. The season of Christmas is perhaps the worst time of all to be homeless. As well as the biting, unforgiving cold, there is the constant reminder of the frivolous consumption and joy of the more fortunate.
During the Christmas period, Crisis provides shelter for thousands of people in centres across the country. Crisis volunteers serve meals, provide arts and crafts classes, give employment advice and enable vulnerable people to see a doctor or dentist. Of equal importance, but harder to document, they give warmth and friendship. Everyone, homeless or not, needs companionship – loneliness is a major problem in mainstream society as well as on the edges. The value of individual acts of help and kindness is incalculable.
Homelessness happens for many reasons. One reason is that there are too few houses, which drives up house prices. It is a solvable problem. It is also true that alcoholism or drug addiction can cause people to lose their homes. Homelessness should be viewed as a human tragedy rather than a punishment. Addiction is not a serious enough crime to justify homelessness.
- It is said that if you give a person a fish, you feed that person for a day, but if you teach someone to fish, you feed that person for a whole lifetime. If, with the help of charities and their supporters, homeless people can learn new skills, they have the chance to escape homelessness. For this, they need help from those who are more fortunate.
Time for reflection
At the heart of Christmas is the giving and receiving of human kindness. Taking time to help others, whether they are people at the very edges of society, such as the long-term homeless, or just anyone who needs support, is surely part of the true meaning of Christmas.
Sharing compassion, warmth and kindness is what makes us human. Spread these at Christmas, for there is no better time to do so.
At this time of celebration, partying and families coming together,
help us to remember that some people are excluded, cold, alone and hungry.
Bless the work of all those intent on giving a good Christmas to people in need.
And help us to work towards a happy Christmas for all.
‘Another day in paradise’ by Phil Collins
If any students would like to get involved in the work of Crisis and other charities, the links in the ‘Preparation and materials’ section will be helpful.
Students may also be interested in the work of foodbanks, which have become increasingly popular throughout the country.