Christmas can be a challenging time in normal circumstances, but if you’re homeless or have a housing problem it can be especially difficult. ‘What’s happening for people is that they’re struggling, they’re under a lot of strain, pressure, and stress. And Christmas just adds to that for some people,’ Shelter Sheffield hub manager Tracey Nathan explains. ‘It almost puts a spotlight on the difficult situation in which they are living, because it’s a time when you’re meant to be happy, you’re meant to be settled, you’re meant to be able to give your children the most amazing time.’
Shelter Sheffield work with a lot of families and children experiencing housing problems. ‘Children and family services are really at the heart of what we do, and have been for many many years,’ Tracey adds. Since April this year, Shelter Sheffield’s Homeless Prevention and Resettlement Service has worked with 221 families and 534 children. But this is just one of the many services based in the Sheffield hub.
There’s also the Sheffield Intensive Family Support Service, funded by Children in Need, and a specialist service helping children being resettled after homelessness, funded by the local authority, and other specialist services. ‘We work with families in a holistic way. We try and help people address all the issues that may be affecting their housing situation – poverty, debt, poor housing conditions, unaffordable housing, employment, access to wider support etc. We aim to help people be resilient and have housing that helps them to thrive,’ Tracey said.
Shelter Sheffield is working with a lot of families and children. Many are facing a bleak Christmas, so Shelter Sheffield do what they can to help families through this difficult time. ‘We do things around this time to give people a bit of break and to give people a nice time that they wouldn’t be able to afford or wouldn’t be able to access otherwise,’ Tracey said. This includes running festive workshops, organising craft drop ins to make decorations or taking families to pantomime.
‘These activities aren’t just about the opportunity to take part in something – they are also about meeting people in a similar situation, relaxing, having some fun, and hopefully feeling more able to deal with the pressure that they are experiencing through being homeless or struggling,’ she adds. ‘The families deserve to have a nice time.’
Shelter Sheffield also makes sure that families have gifts for their children. Some of these are donated by HSBC and Nationwide Building Society, while others are donations from Shelter Sheffield’s Amazon wish list. Others come from a local charity that gives shoe boxes for families in need. ‘It’s just a lovely thing to be able to do and it makes such a difference to how people feel,’ Tracey adds.
Helping families struggling with housing problems and homelessness to have a merry Christmas is an essential part of the work that Shelter Sheffield does. It’s just another example of the positive difference the service makes to different areas of so many families’ lives.
If you need housing advice or support from us, then come visit Shelter Sheffield at Furnival House, 48 Furnival Gate, Sheffield, S1 4QP.