I hope all is well with everyone. I'm aware that quite often, I pose that question and then write some banal text about how great life is when actually, not everyone is as fortunate, and maybe things aren't that well.
I didn't even know where this post was going until I started writing. But let's discuss homelessness.
You've probably heard of something called Crisis for Christmas, which is a UK based charity that provides shelter for the homeless over the Christmas period. Let's just think about that for one second. The year is 2014, we are living in probably one of the most affluent countries in the world, yet there are people living on the streets. I find that a hard concept to wrap my head around. How many times have you walked past someone on the street, asking for food or money and you've just ignored them, put your head down and kept walking? I'm no saint, I'm guilty of it too, but if I look deeper the reason I do it is probably because I feel uncomfortable at not doing more to help the situation. Think about how much money you earn, or think about the richest people in the country... Having £10m in the bank surely can't feel good when there are people out there trying to find somewhere to sleep while the temperature drops to freezing at night. I sound harsh but sometimes it's important to confront these realities.
For the past few years, I've volunteered at Crisis and it's a real heart and eye opening thing to do. There are different volunteering roles available at different centres across London (where I'm based) so you can be involved in anything from making tea to manning the drug outreach rooms, to serving dinner to just *being* with the guests. I've met some truly inspirational people. A lady forced to live on the streets after her and her husband divorced and she wasn't able to earn enough to support herself and her children. A man who'd left the army and a) found it hard to re-acclimatise to being a civilian (I can't remember the real term for that) and b) was unsupported by the government and so ended up on the streets. The saddest I will always remember is the chap whose wife and son had died in a car accident 8 years previously and he just couldn't.get.over it. He'd become an alcoholic and was homeless because he couldn't move past his grief and didn't know where to get help.
The thing is, throughout the various struggles, some of the people I've met still find the strength to smile and find happiness despite their situation. How inspiring is that? Makes our day to day stresses and issues seem minute now. I'm not trying to trivialise anything serious that people are going through, it's just important to keep perspective.
Thankfully, Crisis offers help, support and shelter to people in need around Christmas time. Hundreds of volunteers come out around the festive period to get stuck in and help, and so I guess I'm ending this post with a big, fat and totally obvious.. Plea? Suggestion? Please get involved if you can! If you can't spare the time, then please spare some cash as donations go a long way to keeping Crisis going. The website is www.crisis.org.uk.
If you can spare neither time nor cash, then please stop and talk to someone in need next time you're walking down the street. They're human, and all humans need warmth and interaction, even from strangers.
Much love xx