CEO’s Blog – 16/12/2015

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…. actually so am I (note to self: do more exercise). Well let’s be honest, most of us should exercise and eat more healthily, as these are two things that help us obtain a better quality of life. It also helps us in other ways too; it gets us off the settee and out and about, experiencing new things, being sociable, and exercise generates endorphins (no, not in-door-things, enDORphins) which help us feel better all round. Lots of us of course have no excuse not to be like this. We can go to the gym, do regular cycle rides, walk instead of taking the car, take up a sport and so forth – maybe even buy a Wii Fit! What I am talking about here is “wellbeing”, a catch-word that has come into vogue over the past years and not least of all applied to homelessness. If you think about it, being homeless is not just about not having a roof over your head, it permeates all aspects of life – including health and wellbeing. How many homeless people have a well-balanced diet for example? Some are lucky if they have a diet at all, let alone a well-balanced one! How many get good quality, regular exercise as well? OK, walking the streets could be classed as exercise, but “quality”? Hmmm, not so much. All things in moderation – walking the streets ALL DAY, every day, in all weathers is not actually what we need to be doing and certainly doesn’t help add to a feeling of wellbeing.

So where am I going with this? Well, I started off with Christmas and for many people it is one time of the year that they start thinking about those who are in some way less fortunate than themselves. I am reminded of a line in that Ralph McTell song, The Streets of London – “… how can you tell me you’re lonely”. Christmas is a time when people who are on their own, can feel this so acutely. Can you imagine a homeless person walking past lines of front-rooms of an evening, lights on, decorations up, people partying away? How much more alone must that person feel when they can see everyone else having such a great time? Homelessness hurts at any time of year, but even more so at Christmas.

This time of year can therefore often stir people into action – “can you tell me where the soup kitchen is so I can go and help hand out food on Christmas day to the homeless”. A worthy sentiment indeed, but guess what? Homeless people need our help every single day of the year, not just at on the high days and holidays. Helping people in need means the most when it’s done at a time that is least convenient for US to do it. Perhaps the greatest Christmas present we could give ourselves is that small sacrifice – giving time when you think you can least afford to give it or even giving money when you feel you are less well-off yourself. Volunteering, helping, supporting, giving. All these things are worth so much more when it means that WE have to give up something of value to ourselves to do it. If we expect it to be easy or even fun then maybe it’s not as valuable a gift. Either way, whatever YOU can do to help homelessness, whenever you can and however you can, do it with an open heart and if you do it in a way that you expect nothing back, this is when you are most likely to get something back – even if it’s just the knowledge that you have made one person’s life, just that little bit better for a while – improving your own wellbeing as well as those in such need. Happy Christmas to all our supporters – we couldn’t do without you.