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Current Hot Topic for December 2017


A Warm-Hearted Winter

Title

A Warm-Hearted Winter

Background Story

With the festive period fast approaching, we look forward to the good times ahead… the decorated warmth and food treats, gifts of plenty, and precious time spent with loved ones. For some however, this time of year brings with it loneliness, difficulty and neglect. Many organisations and charities promote the act of giving… giving time, giving gifts and giving a warm meal. Across the nation, the Cash for Kids charity “responds to the needs of children in communities so they can live life to the full and realise their individual potential” (www.cashforkids.uk.com, 2017). Particularly at this time, Cash for Kids appeals to the public to buy an extra present, which can then be given to disadvantaged local children; Children who would have ordinarily woken up on Christmas morning to find there are no presents under the tree for them. It is estimated that staggering 47,500 children would wake up to nothing this Christmas. “We need new and unwrapped gifts suitable for children and young people aged 0-18 years, and you can donate at our drop off points across the region”. If you would like to get involved with this, visit http://www.cashforkids.uk.com/ for more information.

Metro advocates Centrepoint, which is a charity that supports youth homelessness. The latest figures published in 2016 suggests that over 4,000 people sleep rough each night in the UK, a rise of 134% since 2010. In addition to this there are many ‘hidden homeless’. The charity Crisis have conducted research which suggests that 62% of individuals that are actually homeless, are not accounted for in statistics. This includes those who are able to find a temporary solution by staying with family, friends or squats and insecure accommodation (www.homeless.org.uk, 2017). So, whilst we are cosy and snug on these Winter nights, lets take a moment to think about those that don’t have the luxury of a stable roof over their heads. “One small way to help is to create a care package. Items like thermal blankets, hats, scarves and gloves, hand warmers, first aid kits, sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste are a good idea. Non-perishable food items such as crackers, pretzels and nutrition bars are also a good start.” (www.metro.co.uk, 2017). Not to forget about the 4-legged animals at Christmas who too are homeless, you could create packages to include dog blankets, toys and packaged food items! For more information and tips of how to support the local homeless at Christmas, visit https://centrepoint.org.uk/.

“Community Christmas believes that no elderly person in the UK should be alone on Christmas Day unless they want to be” (www.communitychristmas.org.uk, 2017). From 2014, it has been estimated that half a million of the British elderly will be alone on Christmas day (BBC, 2014). Community Christmas encourages inclusion, and the organisation of Christmas day events in pubs and restaurants, for the elderly to come along to, or simply offer your time to elderly person in your area for tea and cake. They ask that you provide your details to the organisation, and let them know of the events you are planning, so as others may be directed to your area, and participation can be monitored. Bisto has teamed up with a national charity Contact the Elderly to create the Bisto Together Project and you may have seen their adverts on TV. The main aim of this project is to tackle loneliness, and they are encouraging people to host an older person who may be lonely, at their table for a Sunday Roast. For more information on this visit www.bistotogetherproject.com

What can you do to bring extra joy and warmth to disadvantaged people at this time of year?


Training & Vetting Volunteers - Most charities will fully appreciate the volunteering of individuals to help support events and projects at christmas time to provide the homeless, and other disadvantaged groups with food and shelter. However these charities would also prefer that individuals volunteer to give support throughout the whole year. “Many people choose to volunteer at homeless shelters across the country at Christmas time because it makes them feel good to give something back. Part of the reason we turn away fairweather volunteers is that the training and vetting programme all our new volunteers have to go through will take longer than the time they’re willing to volunteer for” (The Guardian, 2013). Why is it important for volunteers to be vetted? What standard vetting procedures would take place? What is the importance of training? How might this training differ with different charities and individual groups? How will this process safgeguard disadvantaged groups and volunteers?

Child Poverty - Nationally, 1 in 4 children live in poverty. Economic hardships lead to children suffering the most with poor living conditions, reduced levels of education and increased levels of stress in the family and community network. Providing a gift to a child at Christmas, who may ordinarily not receive one, can be joyous for them and fill them with hope. Which areas of the UK are more likely to contend with child poverty? What could be the reasons for this? What is the definition of child poverty in the UK? What specific charities are in place in your local area to help combat child poverty, and equalise child opportunity? Other than giving a gift to a child at Christmas, what other events and projects could be implemented to improve the experience for children at this time?

The Health and Wellbeing of the Homeless - For those who are homeless, their general health and wellbeing will suffer, more often as a consequence of homelessness and unsanitary and unsafe environmental conditions. However, this may sometimes be the cause of homelessness, i.e. not being able to hold down secure employment, or drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. The average age of the death of the homeless is 47 and 43 for males and females respectively, due to two or more diseases occurring in the same person. Research the common physical and mental health conditions suffered by those who are homeless. What methods are being employed in your area to tackle the health and well-being of the homeless, and further homelessness prevalence in your locality? What is the average age of death of the national population, compared to the homeless population?

Mutual Respect and Tolerance - This time of year, is widely recognised as a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is important not to forget that other religions celebrate significant spiritual events in the month of December. What other religions celebrate in the month of December? What is the history and significance of these calendar events? What might those individuals, who do not believe in any particular faith or religion favour to celebrate? Use www.religioustolerance.org as a source of support.
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