320,000 people are homeless in Britain, and among them, around 135,000 are children. While Christmas is for many a time of celebration and joy, for them it is one of the worst period of the year. They feel even more lonely and isolated on top of their current difficulties for day-to-day life.
This is why some people decided to create the campaign “Boxed” in order to help the homeless as much as they can throughout this rough period. This idea is simple: people just have to fill a shoebox with some gifts and essentials, which will then be given to homeless for this special occasion. The most appropriate things to put in are: something against cold (hats, gloves, scarves, …), something good to eat (tinned food, chocolates, …), something for leisure (pocketbook), health care products (toothbrushes, hand cream, pads, …), and last but not least, few greetings words on a card. It does not have to be expensive; anything that can be given the smallest thing will inevitably make the happiness of some. Some boxes can be dedicated to male/female or children.
The concept is so practical that the idea has spread and many associations have set up this project like OBF “Shoebox for a Stranger”. Indeed, it does not take much time and money to prepare, and it makes a huge difference to a homeless who is desperately in need.
Even though this is a really nice initiative, it is not enough. Homeless people needs help every day and not just at Christmas. However, it is difficult to help people on your own when you do not know what to give, what is really needed. Sometimes also, you do not want to give money directly at the risk of it being inefficiently spent.
Hence, the organization Crisis created “Shop to stop Homelessness”. At any time of the year, on their website, you can chose the level of donation you are willing to do, and the area you are willing to improve (counseling and support sessions, kitchen basics, well-being activities…) so you know how your money will be spend. The process makes it look like you buy a gift that you then send to homeless people to help them rebuilding their life. The gifts that you can give are not “just” food and clothes, but meaningful gifts that could help someone on their journey out of homelessness. That is why it is interesting because you could not provide this kind of support by your own.
For example, a gift of £321 could go towards job-ready kits for three people experiencing homelessness, which includes new clothing, equipment and certifications; and a gift of £59 could go towards some kitchen basics like kettle, toaster and microwave.
A basic and simple first step for helping is to create your own shoebox (if for Christmas it is too late, there is a lot of other special occasions. Do not be shy, be creative, think about other topics: Easter, dog owner…)