CHRISTMAS conjures up images of loved ones gathering around a glistening tree with presents piled high under the branches.
Perhaps an indulgent meal followed by a nap in front of a roaring fire?
We all know the scene.
Yet for many this is exactly why this time of year is so hard – as some people don’t have a home to go to, they don’t have family to share the season with.
“Homelessness is a serious issue throughout the year, however Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for homeless and vulnerable people,” explains Stonepillow’s community fundraiser, Emily Skiggs.
“The cold temperatures of the winter months pose serious health issues to those facing sleeping rough, while the financial pressures of the Christmas season can see an increase in the number of people losing their homes and facing family and relationship breakdowns.”
This is why we are asking Observer readers to share the festive spirit this year and help Stonepillow to deliver Christmas to people who may not have a chimney.
Over the next five weeks we’ll be asking for packages, roughly the size of a shoebox, and each will have a different theme to help a different aspect of Stonepillow’s work.
This will range from food for the Christmas Day dinners and presents, to music and art materials to support the creative therapy workshops that support clients at the day centre.
The campaign begins with ‘Christmas Boxes’ which can include some, or all, of the following – gloves, scarves, warm socks, chocolate, books, magazines, hats, tinned food, toiletries and stationery.
“The shoeboxes full of gifts and essential items will really make our clients feel that people in the local community do care about them,” said Emily.
The editor of the Observer series, Colin Channon, said: “Christmas is a time when we should be thinking of others.
“Sometimes this can be forgotten which is why this campaign is so important. Our readers have had a great record in the past of being a very generous lot and I would urge people to help where they can.”
Stonepillow’s helping hand for the homeless
Stonepillow is the homeless charity for Chichester and Arun Districts. Its services include two night hostels – St Joseph’s in Chichester and Glenlogie House in Bognor Regis.
St Joseph’s sleeps ten clients on a long-stay programme and is open seven nights a week, all year round. Glenlogie is open seven nights a week from November to April, and is also operating as a drop-in day centre for three
days a week until April.
Stonepillow also has another day centre called The Hub, at the Old Glassworks in central Chichester, which is open seven days a week all year round.
In addition, 54 clients are housed in its move-on accommodation and there is a no-second-night-out team, a 12-bed residential recovery and rehabilitation centre (Sands) and a social enterprise community project (Restore) that recycles furniture and white goods, while providing volunteering and training opportunities.
“Stonepillow is committed to supporting people who find themselves sleeping rough on the streets, providing them access to safety, and to improving their wellbeing and preventing homelessness by breaking the cycles that lead people to insecure accommodation,” explains Emily Skiggs, community fundraiser,
“The journey from homelessness towards recovery can be long and painful with many challenges and obstacles to conquer along the way. Providing the best possible outcome through health, housing and work for our beneficiaries remains at the heart of every decision we make.”
To find out more about Stonepillow visit www.stonepillow.org.uk