In mid-December I ventured into Birmingham to help my colleague Rosie with a project for Chiltern Railways. Sitting in the grounds of the cathedral at 6pm with a massive, headless, fibreglass beefeater (remember to ask me about that next time you see me) the freezing cold night was almost unbearable as Jack Frost nipped at my fingers and toes. I’d never been more relieved to be returning home to my warm flat.
Earlier that day, a couple of homeless guys had approached the stand we were working on to say hello. As I wandered off to grab my lunch, they told me about their life in the city, sleeping behind buildings, sharing their sleeping bags with rats and getting their dinner from the back doors of restaurants after closing time. As I lay in my bed defrosting that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the men I’d met, wondering where they were, and how they must be feeling. Christmas came and it played on my mind. When the snow arrived, I knew I had to do something.
For the past couple of months I’ve been volunteering at my local shelter. It’s a service that provides homeless people in my community with a warm dinner, hot drinks and a safe environment in which to get their heads down during the freezing weather. The shelter is only open overnight when the temperature drops below zero, as council funding is extremely limited. Buzzing around the kitchen cooking for 15 people, making dozens of cups of tea and keeping those who are often vulnerable company has taken up my evenings over the winter.
I was delighted when Connect PR factored a donation to the shelter in its first quarter budget to help make the lives of those in need in my local community a little easier. They’ve restocked the First Aid boxes, brought loads of pairs of warm winter socks and even donated biscuits for the service users to dunk in their tea – little pleasures that they otherwise might not experience.
So as you’re sitting at your desk sighing about the cold, or complaining about an iced up windscreen, spare a thought for others that might not be as fortunate. And if you’re passing by The Chubb Buildings, drop snacks, tea, coffee, jumpers, gloves, hats, socks or toiletries in; you can be sure they’ll go to a good home, even if that home is temporary.