‘Homeless people suffer 365 days a year...so don’t just volunteer at Christmas’
- Credit: Archant
Helping the homeless over the holidays is a great thing to do – but their problems still exist 365 days a year, when there is less help from people wanting to give back over Christmas.
That's the message from Captain Alison Greer, who is assistant regional manager for the Salvation Army in Suffolk.
She wants to welcome more volunteers all year round - and raise awareness of the wide range of opportunities available.
"The issue is that lots of people want to help around Christmas," she said.
"The commercialisation of the holiday includes wanting to do something for others, but when that dies down, the issues are still there.
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"Vulnerable and homeless people suffer 365 days a year not just over Christmas, they still have the same needs and the same vulnerabilities."
Preparations for the Christmas period begin months in advance and volunteers line up to make sure the people staying in the charity's 'life houses' get dinner and a card.
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Often, due to the issues that lead people to these facilities, many tend to get overwhelmed easily - and so the Christmas Day celebrations are more 'low key', without all the pressure of presents, food and family.
The Salvation Army offers many different ways for people to help out and Captain Greer wants people to be aware those roles don't have to be difficult.
She said: "If you want to help, then volunteer and do it at different times of year - there are still several months of cold left in winter.
"If people contact the Salvation Army centres, they can volunteer in plenty of different roles.
"We assess your skills to find the best place for you, train you and will never push someone into a situation where they feel uncomfortable.
"The most worthwhile reason to volunteer is getting to see the journey of the people you help - and how they develop with that help - is 'really wonderful."
If you see vulnerable people out on the streets this Christmas the Salvation Army advises buying them a drink, food or having a chat - treat them how you would wish to be treated.
Captain Greer wants people to remember: "Volunteering isn't just for Christmas."