This is the second year we have chosen to support Crisis with their Crisis at Christmas campaign. Like most offices our staff usually do a little Christmas fundraising to support local charities – the Membership team have a tasty Christmas tradition revolving around homemade sweet things (this year it’s been Vicky’s homemade fudge) which encourages everyone to take part. But over the last couple of years the NLA has decided to support one issue more substantially.
Our role in the housing industry means we see just how much of a critical issue homelessness is for the UK and Crisis was the first charity we thought of supporting.
Working closely with them throughout the year means we know just how much of an impact their work has. Over the last year welfare reform and ensuring local authorities meet their housing responsibilities have been key issues for both our organisations. The NLA is also a key partner in the Crisis’ Private-Rented Sector Access Development Programme which funds new community based services helping single homeless people to find and sustain good quality accommodation in the private-rented sector (PRS).
It is clear that the NLA and the private-rented sector are not the solution to all housing problems. But we were keen to do our bit.
Importantly for us Crisis at Christmas shows people taking action. Since 1972 it has been doing ‘Big Society’ and now, as Europe’s largest volunteering event, Crisis at Christmas involves 8,000 volunteers. They provide over 3,000 guests comfort, food, health services and advice. Most importantly they provide some Christmas cheer for those with very little to be cheerful about. What they achieve is extraordinary.
Last year we supported Crisis’ Newcastle Skylight centre in an effort to highlight rough sleeping as a national concern and not just a London problem. This year our contribution is equivalent to funding a place at Crisis at Christmas for every NLA local representative in the UK.
A small Christmas gift to help those who have a particular tough time at Christmas.
Our contribution is only part of the support Crisis – and this issue – needs. There are over 40,000 homeless people in England; in London alone nearly 4,000 people slept rough this year alone. That is 8 per cent more than last year. All the indications are that 2012 will present even more challenges for the industry in terms of housing need. We all need housing to rise up the political agenda and politicians need to use 2012 to do better.
We hope that the rest of the private-rented sector will join us in supporting Crisis. You can support Crisis at Christmas too by donating at http://community.crisis.org.uk/reserved