What is Christmas to those without a home?
What does Christmas mean to people who are affected by homelessness? Do they notice the bright lights, do they watch people walk by – Christmas shopping in the cold evenings? Do they wonder what might happen if they had the chance to enjoy a traditional Christmas, as we do, with friends and family?
The answer to the above is yes, but it is also complicated – with many more emotions and feelings playing a part in how people affected by homelessness feel about Christmas.
Last year we asked service users what Christmas means to them. Their replies ranged from exciting to scared and lonely. This isn’t unusual – as every person at SSJ is an individual with their own feelings and thoughts. Whilst some may look forward to our traditional Christmas Meal – provided thanks to our appeal – others may have thoughts of regret relating back to missed opportunities or lost loved ones which mean they find Christmas challenging.
Senior Support Worker Lucy recently spoke to Barry, who has been in our services for a while now, and his thoughts on Christmas show that all kinds of memories can resurface at this time of the year.
Barry said; “Christmas it is horrid, if it was a colour it would be black. It’s a very emotional time. There is a photo of my mum and dad sitting on a step in black and white from 1967, near Christmas time in 2015, I went back to the step and slept on it due to a relationship breakdown, and my mum had passed away.
“People helped me over Christmas time when I was homeless, someone brought me out a Christmas dinner one year, people gave me lots of jumpers, jackets and money which I was very grateful for.”
Barry continued; “now I am temporary accommodated, Christmas is still a hard time due to bereavement and mental health however I am working on myself and have better people in my life who support me now I am kind of looking forward to Christmas. “
Barry speaks about how Christmas can feel like the colour black, but ends with the fact that there is now a support network in his life – and the Christmas Meals Appeal gives us the chance to show Barry that Christmas can be a positive time of the year – and who knows what that good feeling might do for Barry in 2022.
Even for us, those who are lucky to have a home and a family to go home to at Christmas – this time of the year can be complicated, stressful and challenging. Those feelings can be multiplied for people who have a history of homelessness – some who are facing complex health issues too – meaning Christmas can feel incredibly daunting and very lonely.
Our appeal will provide a gift or a Christmas meal to people affected by homelessness, but most of all it will be provide hope.
If you want to find out more about our appeal – email Dennis.Jones@SSJ.org.uk
Thank you for your support this Christmas.