Survey reveals 1 in 4 homeless people will spend this Christmas alone
As Crisis opens its Christmas centres to an expected 4,000 homeless guests, new research by the charity reveals how one in four homeless people in the UK will spend this Christmas alone, while more than six out of ten will spend it with neither family nor friends.
Drawing on a survey of more than 500 people in homeless day centres across the UK, the report reveals the extent of loneliness and isolation amongst homeless people, the stigma they experience and the heavy toll it takes on their mental and physical health.
It shows how six out of ten homeless people suffer from loneliness, making them some of the most isolated people in our society. One in three has no contact with family, while less than one in four can call on a friend in an emergency.
The report also looks at the impact of loneliness on people’s lives. It shows how 70 per cent of homeless people often or sometimes feel ashamed or invisible to others, leading nearly half to feel like they don’t deserve to be helped. Crucially, these experiences make it even harder for people to rebuild their lives: more than half said they found it harder to seek help, while seven out of ten found it harder to secure or maintain a job. In the worst cases, people had even considered or attempted suicide.
As Crisis opens Christmas centres across London, Edinburgh, Coventry, Birmingham and Newcastle, the charity is calling for action to make sure nobody has to face homelessness in the first place.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Christmas should be a time for family and friends, for warmth and celebration, yet for homeless people it can be one of the hardest periods of the year - a cold, lonely experience to be endured rather than enjoyed. That’s what makes our work at Christmas so important.
“Yet loneliness isn’t just a problem at Christmas. Homelessness is a desperate, isolating experience that destroys people’s confidence and self-esteem and makes it even harder for them to get help. We already know that homeless people are over nine times more likely to commit suicide, and there can be little doubt that loneliness plays a major part in that tragedy.
“That’s why we also run year-round services to help homeless people rebuild their confidence and self-esteem. Yet it would be far better if nobody ever had to be homeless in the first place. Sadly, homeless people who go to their councils for help are often turned away with little or nothing at all. That’s why we urgently need a change in the law so that everyone can get the help they need, and we urge the public to back our campaign.”
The charity’s Christmas centres are run by an army of more than 10,000 volunteers. As well as warmth, companionship and three hot meals a day, guests receive healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits and are encouraged to take up the life-changing opportunities on offer at Crisis in centres across the country in the New Year ahead.
Jon Sparkes added: “Every year, Crisis opens its doors to thousands of homeless people, offering warmth, shelter, food and companionship, as well as access to vital services.
“None of this would be possible without the generosity and compassion of thousands of individuals, organisations and companies, who give their time, funds and goods to make Christmas happen for some of society’s most vulnerable people.”