Peter McVerry Trust is dedicated to providing as positive an atmosphere as possible to those in our services and family hubs this Christmas.
Delivering that experience would not be possible without the support of the public, which we are grateful to receive every year. Below, we provide an insight into what Christmas is like for those experiencing homelessness, and provide guidance on how you can help people and families in our services this Christmas.
What does Christmas look like for families at risk of, or experiencing homelessness?
For families experiencing homelessness, Christmas can be a challenging time. Families may be tight on space to store children’s Christmas presents or may worry that other families children might compare toys received.
For many of us, Christmas will be spent in our own homes or in the home of a family member. For those experiencing homelessness, there can be a feeling of Christmas being incomplete as they are not in their own home, or their families may be separated due to homelessness. Unfortunately, sometimes that separation among families doesn’t change on Christmas Day.
Within our hubs, some families may fear that their living space is less homely than anticipated around Christmas because they share the hub with families from other cultures and religions who may not celebrate Christmas. In an effort to compromise on cultural differences, families celebrating Christmas may feel like they can’t use the entire living space for Christmas decorations.
Despite the challenges faced in family hubs, our teams are dedicated to making this Christmas a positive time for families going through a challenging situation. Our staff will be serving Christmas dinner and delivering presents to each of our family hubs, as well as ensuring that for families whose children are hoping for a visit from Santa, their expectations will be met.
What advice do families at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness need to know in the run up to Christmas?
Families at risk of experiencing homelessness, should be aware of the following:
Local charities who offer extra support around this time of year, ie. St Vincent DePaul, as well as local fundraisers that may be of benefit to them.
We encourage families to ask for help and not to be ashamed of asking for help, because there are people ready and dedicated to helping families this Christmas.
In terms of donations and public support, what do people in our services need?
In terms of donations and public support, Christmas gifts are always welcomed. The cost associated with moving accommodation on a regular basis is high and families can constantly be covering the costs of living in unsettled environments.
To support our families to prepare for Christmas toys are always welcomed, including gifts for older children and teenagers and particularly for older boys from the age of 10-16,. Parents are always appreciative for this support as it eases the pressure off the families.
Will we have Santa or Christmas dinner in our services this year?
Staff will ensure that the family hubs appear cosy, inviting, colourful and warm in the lead up to Christmas.
Activities will be organised by the staff team in the run up to Christmas for the children in the hubs to help with seasonal pictures which will then be framed and hung on the walls in the hubs.
Staff will prepare Christmas dinner on Christmas day and St. Stephen’s Day for our families and every child in the hub will be given a Christmas gift. Christmas dinners will also be provided in our adult services.
How can I help those accessing adult services?
Christmas can be very difficult for single adults in our services especially if they are separated from friends, family or their children.
Our staff will endeavour to support clients during this period and will be serving Christmas dinners to anyone who is spending this period in the services. More information on support for those experiencing homelessness during Christmas can be found here.
Below is a list of items which would make a difference to people across all our services:
- Male and female underwear
- Towels (bath and hand towels)
- Makeup for women as a gift
- Sanitary products
- Rain jackets
- Cups and mugs
- Chocolate and sweets
- Pyjamas for people going into hospital
- Dry, well-dated foods like crackers, crisps etc.
- Board games
- One4All Vouchers (empower those in receipt of a voucher to help empower those in homelessness to make their own choices)
We would ask that the public refrain from giving items such as alcohol, razors/blades, hats, scarves or cooked food (staff are providing dinners).
What other practical ways can the public help?
The public can help by contributing to local fundraisers, organising fundraising events in their local communities or in their workplace such as a tea morning, volunteering, attending charity events, or availing of the range of Christmas cards available through our shop – the entire proceeds of which go directly into our services. Donations can also be made here and businesses can support us through our One in a Million appeal.
Call (01) 823 0776 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with our team.