In the last week or two temperatures have plummeted, reaching as low as minus two degrees overnight. For most of us this means reaching for big coats, scarfs and gloves before stepping outside but imagine having to brave the freezing temperatures all day and night - this is the reality for the many rough sleepers in our towns and cities. 

Most of us endure the winter, accepting the brutal winds and shiver-inducing frost in return for the joys of Christmas. We enjoy a short, bracing walk in the cold, protected by large coats and jolly bobble hats, sustained by the thought of a hot chocolate, a warm bath and our centrally heated homes. However, there are many people who don’t have the luxury of a roof over their heads and have to try and survive the cold weather whilst living on the streets. In 2022/2023, more than ten thousand people were reportedly sleeping rough in London. While crowds of frenzied shoppers flood our high streets, it is all too easy to ignore those who dread this time of year and do not share the same hope and excitement in the build-up to the festive season. However, there are ways that we can help out the homeless this winter: 

● Offering to buy a hot drink or meal for somebody sleeping rough is a good way to help someone get warm and show them that you are prepared to help. Warm drinks and food can make all the difference to someone who is out all day in freezing temperatures. 

● If you see someone sleeping rough you can ask whether they know of the local services available in the community. If you think that someone needs help but is unable to look for it themselves you can get in touch with local charity SPEAR, who run an outreach service which can offer targeted help to people sleeping rough. 

● Donate to local charities that help the homeless - many local charities have lists of items that they need at this time of the year, including warm clothing, padded coats and sleeping bags, as well as financial donations. Food banks are also at their busiest during the winter period and as well as donations they also usually welcome volunteers too. 

Christmas is a great time to get involved in your community and give something back so don’t just walk past that person you see on the street when you’re out doing your Christmas shopping, stop and ask if you can help - it could make a real difference.