A local charity is asking for donations of thermal hats or socks to support homeless people in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole areas.
The HeathBus Trust is a charity which supports homeless people by providing basic healthcare, GP services and mental health support.
The Bags of Hope campaign is calling for donations of essential items as gift bag for rough sleepers.
Such items include warm clothes such as warm socks, gloves, or hats to provide warmth in the dropping temperatures. Other items which could be donated are tissues, anti-bacterial gel, or masks to help rough-sleepers keep safe from COVID-19.
Kate Hibbit is Operations Director of the HealthBus Trust.
Kate said: “We are trying to give a gift to people who won’t get a present this Christmas.
“It’s to bring a bit of hope to people, it’s very miserable out there at the moment.”
Another campaign which is being run alongside is called Gifts of Hope, which are Christmas cards with donation tickets which will help support rough sleepers.
BCP council’s latest figures from February suggest that there are 13 people currently rough sleeping in Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole.
HealthBus supports rough sleepers, but also people who are sofa-surfing or who are in emergency temporary accommodation.
Such situations all count as being homeless under the legal definition of homelessness, according to Shelter England, 2018.
Kate refers to these as the “hidden homeless” and says that figures of homeless people as a whole are “a lot higher than figures suggest”.
Living on the streets
With overnight temperatures dropping rapidly, it is now a turbulent time for those sleeping rough.
For those sleeping rough this month, Kate said the situation is
“The anxiety and fear of not knowing where they are going to sleep, whether they are going to be beaten up or attacked they can’t think of anything else.
“Everything is about survival.”
Kate believes that attitudes towards homeless people are often negative and this can lead to judgements towards homeless people and those trying to provide aid.
She said: “People judge these guys because of substance abuse but I often say that if I was sleeping rough that would be the only way I could cope.
“It’s the only way to numb the pain.
“That is the reality of the harshness of what it’s like to live on the streets
“They often feel invisible and that nobody cares.”
Cllr Hazel Allen is the lead member for homelessness for BCP council
She said in a statement to the Echo: “The BCP Homeless Partnership along with many local charities, businesses and public sector organisations will continue to help work towards the big vision of ‘everyone having a safe place to call home’ this Christmas”.
More details on the HealthBus Christmas campaigns can be found on their website.