As we approach the Christmas holiday I, like I’m sure many others, have been thinking about how we do Christmas a little differently due to the very different year that we’ve had. The Coronavirus has highlighted huge inequalities and exposed the most vulnerable in society. So, I have decided to support four charities this Christmas and am promoting the amazing work they do.
More people have been put at risk of homelessness this year as the virus has impacted on unemployment rates. On top of that, as shelters have to be COVID secure, there is a risk that there won’t be enough shelter for our street homeless this winter. This is why my first charity I’m supporting is SPEAR, who help people experiencing homelessness in South West London.
Haven Books is an incredible charity who work to get additional educational books and reading material into prisons across the UK. They are very much aware that prisoners are having to spend increasingly larger proportions of their time in their cells during this difficult year. This is particularly close to my heart as I think of the children I work with who will be spending Christmas away from friends and family this Christmas.
“I became a patron to Haven Distribution at a time when I was overloaded with work, but I felt it was my duty as an ex-prisoner, a writer, and a reader, to support work which had real value to people, work that really mattered” Haven Patron, Benjamin Zephaniah
In Hounslow over 24,000 live in poverty – that’s 41% of all children in the borough. The Hounslow Christmas Project appeal works to help ensure no child in Hounslow goes without a gift this Christmas . They are trying to raise an extra £4000 to provide at least 1,600 gifts for children in Hounslow in all age ranges whose parents are unable to afford gifts themselves.
My final charity, is Richmond and Hounslow Christmas Day Dinner
They work hard to make sure that care leavers who are often isolated at Christmas have a special day and are treated with gifts, kindness and the magic of Christmas. I have had the privilege of being part of Hounslow’s Corporate Parenting Panel for 6 years alongside a number of children in care and care leavers and they teach me so much about their lived experiences of care and how important it is that their voice are heard and needs are met. There’s still time to buy a gift for a young person with care experience this Christmas.
Finally, I would like to wish everyone a restful, peaceful and safe winter holiday. 2021 offers a whole host of challenges. So it is important that we grasp the opportunity of planning our recovery out of the COVID crisis to seriously tackle all the inequalities that have been laid bare by the pandemic. We must invest in rebuilding communities that are safer, healthier and stronger.