Whilst many are getting in their festive spirit, Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for those who are homeless.

The colder weather, family traditions and sense of community around the festive period can leave many feeling isolated, alone and unwell. 

There are several charities across Leeds which aim to make this time more manageable for those without a home and would appreciate any donations to help the process.  

Gina Morrison, executive lead of the Emmaus charity, said: “I think it goes without saying that the winter months are much harder for homeless people.

“Seeing everybody with their families around Christmas obviously brings home to them their circumstances much more poignantly.” 

The Emmaus charity provides accommodation and work experience for adults who previously had nowhere to live. 

Their focus is to help people get the skills they need to integrate back into society, whilst providing them with a community and basic necessities. 

Gina explained: “Some people and companies have kindly sent gifts to our residents as that’s all part of the Christmas day experience and makes people feel at home, even something small is worthwhile.

“A lot of shelters would also really appreciate extra volunteers and food donations to help with Christmas dinner and things.

“Shopping second hand for gifts at our stores also supports the community. There’s definitely loads of opportunities to make a difference.”

Homelessness has seen a huge spike in recent years, particularly due to the cost of living crisis which has left many unable to afford their rent and bills. 

According to the charity Shelter, more than 5000 people, including 2000 children, are recorded as homeless in the Yorkshire and Humber region, which has risen by nearly 25% since 2021.

Shelley Joyce, Co-Founder of the Homeless Street Angels charity, said: “The cold weather makes the conditions very dangerous and we have lost a few guys over the past few years.

“We try and work alongside other services to help get them rehoused but funding is running out. All we can do is provide warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags and hope that they are safe.”

Shelley and her twin sister started the Charity back in 2017 and hand out hot meals, snack packs and other necessities to homeless people every Thursday. 

They also run a food bank for over 500 families but aren’t Government funded, therefore appreciate any donations, especially around the festive period. 

Shelley said: “If people want to help we are running low on blankets, gloves, sleeping bags and non-perishable food. 

“We have also just released our new Christmas single which we are hoping people download to raise much needed funds.”

More information on how to support the homeless community this Christmas can be found on the Emmaus Leeds and Homeless Street Angels website.

The Christmas single can also be downloaded here.

Source: Homeless Street Angels Facebook