As I walk around London I frequently come across people sleeping rough, for example in and around the Victoria area. Almost invariably there is a man or, occasionally a lady sitting near the cash machine close to my local supermarket begging for money.
Hurrying home in this freezing weather I feel grateful that a warm and comfortable home awaits me. I can not begin to imagine what it must be like to have no welcoming home to come home to, to have to spend one’s days (and the freezing nights) huddled in a cardboard box or an old sleeping bag. Whatever circumstances bring people into that state of invisibility known as homelessness, whether it be due to alcoholism, mental illness or running away from an abusive relationship, no one deserves to freeze to death on a cold winter’s evening in this great capital of ours or, indeed in any other place.
On Sunday morning I was pleased to hear the Radio 4 Saint Martins in the Field Christmas appeal which, every year raises money to assist the homeless and others in dire need. The volunteers go out and encourage people who are homeless to come into a warm place and, in the longer term to get back on their feet. In addition the Vicar’s Relief Fund provides grants to those in need, for instance a social worker may apply on behalf of an individual who is in desperate need of a down payment on a rented flat. So when you are tucking into your Christmas turkey with all the trimmings spare a thought for those who are without a home. Enjoy your Christmas dinner (you feeling miserable or guilty will help no one) but think of those outside of your immediate circle and (if you can afford it) give a little something to Saint Martins or one of the other worthy causes.