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Last week, about 40 of us at LexisNexis took a day or two off work to help out at various homeless emergency shelters and hostels run by St Mungo's.
The charity helps rescue people from the streets but, perhaps more importantly, it also provides specialist services to tackle specific issues such as poor health, dependency and unemployment.
They work unfeasibly hard to tackle homelessness and the causes of homelessness.
Here's a quote from one 34-year old resident who was helped by the St Mungo's Reading team this year:
If it wasn’t for the initial help from St Mungo’s, I doubt I would have been capable of getting my situation sufficiently under control in a timely manner, and I certainly wouldn’t have found out about all of the vital information and assistance I needed to get myself straightened out, and stable enough to address my other challenges. In a very real way, I don’t think it is overstating it to say I owe my life, or at least any chance of reclaiming my life, to them.
For many people, homelessness no longer seems such an academic subject. The squeeze in the cost of living in recent years has made many more people concerned about being made homeless themselves:
All things considered, those of us that participated couldn’t think of a better charity to help, particularly at this time of year when budgets are so tight paying for Christmas.
So, if you have any spare cash burning a hole in your pockets, I personally couldn't recommend them more highly.
Any donation, no matter how much small, is appreciated: I've even been so good as to put a link to St Mungo's donation page here.
More importantly, if you are concerned about someone who is sleeping rough in Reading, Bristol, or the Southwark, Westminster or Ealing areas of London (perhaps you have been walking past that person on the way to work in recent weeks?) then please e-mail email@example.com. You can also fill in the referral form on St Mungo's website. (Please provide as much information as possible about the location to enable an outreach team to make initial contact.)
If you are concerned about someone who is rough sleeping elsewhere in the country you can contact StreetLink on 0300 500 0914 or visit their website.
In the meantime, the whole team here would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and peaceful New Year.
We will return in 2014.
PS I am well aware that this sort of post can be almost impossible to write without sounding sanctimonious and gratingly self-congratulatory: 'look at all of the work that we do for 'charidee'' and all that jazz. That said, a lot of people here at LexisNexis were good enough to bring in masses of unwanted winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves (etc) for the charity. They also gave generously in terms of toiletries (obviously new and unused) and Secret Santa presents for the residents at St Mungo's. They deserve to be thanked so I do so now here :-)
0330 161 1234