In shops across the country, change is approaching and an old friend has arrived: tinsel. The encroaching face of Santa Claus and red and green wrapping paper calls forth the familiar feelings that the Christmas holidays inevitably invoke. Your main focus of December may be Christmas, Chanukah or News Year; or your plan is to enjoy Halloween before your hibernation from the festivities begins. This is, for many, a joyous time. However, there are pockets of society who will find this to be the worst time of year. So I am imploring you as a reader, while it is October to consider those in such situations and hopefully you can change something today.
In our country and in the wider realm of Europe, it's going to get colder. Snow is fun and enjoyable, when you've got somewhere to shelter from it after you've had the chance to play. Homeless people across the UK are looking to winter with a nervous stare. Winter and rain mean unpleasant nights and damp clothes. Also shorter days means finding shelter sooner in the day. Not having a home is bad enough, but when winter rears its head, a whole new raft of problems appear. However, to suggest this is the only image of homeless would be to simplify complex problem. Some 100,000 children in the UK are homeless, whether they be on the streets or, more often so, in temporary accommodation. Shelter is a UK charity helping homeless people all year round but they will always need more help in winter as they give themselves to others, to give them a better Christmas. You can also find a number of charities such as the Salvation Army where you can donate toys to be given out to children in need this Christmas. The internet is a bounty of information and you can find out pretty quickly exactly what you can do to help.
Across the world, dispossessed children face winter in foreign countries, in camps, on streets. The UN currently estimate over 65 million people are either refugees, migrants or internally displaced. There are countless charities in countries across the world looking to help these people, providing them with warm clothing, food and shelter. There are also opportunities for us as individuals to give us some time this winter to volunteer either out in camps across the world or closer to home in warehouses, packing and sending out supplies. It might not feel like a lot but showing someone there's someone thinking about them is a pretty big deal.
Back to the UK and looking from the young to the old. Over a million elderly people say they have not spoken to a friend, family member or neighbour in over a month. Half of all adults over 75 years old live alone. However, you celebrate this upcoming season I imagine you spend a lot of it with people, whether they be family, friends or colleagues at that annual Christmas karaoke party you secretly love. As nights get colder and the TV advertises nothing but how best to enjoy this time with the people you love, being alone can be an incredible burden to bear. There are a number of UK charities who seek to help old people suffering from loneliness, so older have someone else to pull a cracker with and of course someone to tell that terrible Christmas joke to.
I am not asking you, one reader, to fix everything, and I'm not suggesting you have to donate every penny and every second of free time to other people. I guess what I'm asking for is a minute, a second, to pause and consider how you view this upcoming season and the imagine it through another person's eyes. Eat mince pies, drink too much, light fireworks and whatever else you enjoy doing this time of year; maybe even find new traditions in your life so enjoyable you'll question why you've never partaken in them before. New traditions have to start somewhere, and no piece of charity is too small. But you may be sitting there thinking that Christmas is hard for you too and it probably is. Enduring family events with the icy in laws and watching your budget get squeezed more and more as your list of people to buy presents for seems to grow every day. So, to address this, I turn to the words of Anne Frank, "No one has ever become poor from giving."