Being homeless is difficult at any time of year, perhaps even more so at Christmas as people plan to spend the holidays with loved ones, it is a stark reminder to those that feel they have nowhere to go. We can all help make a difference this year.
The Real Change not Loose Change campaign is encouraging local people to help raise £15,000 by, as an alternative to giving money direct to people on the streets, donating money or by holding fundraising events in the community. Cake bakes and dress down days are two great ideas for raising money.
This year the Social Inclusion Partnership, which brings together a range of specialist, voluntary, statutory, faith and community groups all working to reduce homelessness in the borough together, is building on the commitment shown by local people, businesses and organisations by launching a year-round initiative to support rough sleepers.
This will highlight the local services, initiatives and charities which support the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in the borough.
The new campaign is now under way and raising money for the Basingstoke Night Light Winter Shelter which opened its doors on Saturday 1 December. Set up by churches in the borough, it will run seven nights a week for the next three months.
Other ways to help the homeless include volunteering your time to help out or by donating items such as food, clothing and toiletries.
The winter shelter, which will be open until Thursday 28 February, will offer hot food, a place to clean up and a cosy bed, as well as company and access to community support and health check-ups. Run by a network of trained and dedicated volunteers, the shelter will be open every night and provides a warm welcome to those most in need.
To donate, look out for the Real Change donation pots in public places in and around the town centre, follow on Facebook and Twitter @realchangebas or give online at https://app.thegoodexchange.com/project/12499/basingstoke-voluntary-action/real-change-for-basingstoke-2018—night-light-winter-shelter
Chair of the Social Inclusion Partnership and the council’s Deputy Leader Cllr Terri Reid said: “After the fundraising closed earlier this year we continued to receive lots of offers of donations and so we decided to make it an ongoing campaign to support local homelessness charities and organisations in the borough all year round. In addition to fundraising, we also hope more local people will give their time to help out or make donations of practical items. By making it a year-round initiative, the borough’s homeless people will receive practical help and encouragement to give them a good chance to make a new start.”
Cllr Reid added: “Thank you to all the individuals, schools, groups, communities and companies who have already shown overwhelming commitment to the campaign – we hope even more people will now raise awareness and get involved. Together we can make a difference.”
If you are worried about someone sleeping rough, please contact Streetlink on 0300 500 0914 or visit www.streetlink.org.uk