BCHA launches its first-ever Festive Appeal as numbers of families and individuals experiencing homelessness increases
Southwest-based charitable housing association BCHA has launched its first-ever Festive Appeal, designed to spread warmth, joy and hope over the holiday season, as recent figures show 10,432 people are experiencing homelessness in the Southwest, plus 4,350 children living in temporary accommodation (Shelter, 2023).
The initiative will provide essential meals and heartfelt gifts for people who are experiencing homelessness, in line with BCHA’s mission to support individuals and families with nowhere to call home.
Every year, numerous families and individuals find themselves in temporary accommodation or emergency B&Bs during the festive season. Many families spend Christmas in a single room, with none of the traditional seasonal comforts of home.
Lorriane Mealings, CEO of BCHA, launched the appeal by saying:
"The festive season is a time of giving, and what better way to celebrate than by giving hope and comfort to people in our local area who are experiencing hardship?
Our Festive Appeal is an opportunity for our community to come together and make a significant impact.
Every donation, no matter how small, canbring happinessto someone who may have lost hope."
Julie Dennis, Senior Practitioner at BCHA in Plymouth, leads a team supporting up to 75 families in temporary accommodation and over 50 more in B&Bs. She explains: “For our families, the festive season can be very different from their previous experiences. Some are living in B&Bs with no cooking facilities, or at best a microwave and kettle. A whole family in one room does not allow for normal festivities, even though hotels do their best to offer a Christmas atmosphere. Families in temporary accommodation have limited income and few belongings, so Christmas cheer can be thin on the ground.”
She went on to say “Last year we were grateful to receive some local support to provide food for some of our families as well as donated gifts. This year we would love to be able to do this for all of our families, as well as buying a new gift for all of the children most in need. The Festive Appeal will go a long way to help us reach every family.”
Family S, who were BCHA residents last Christmas, said “I was dreading the whole Christmas thing last year. Luckily the children were still young so I was able to hide a lot of my stress and worry about being homeless and being in temporary accommodation.”
They added “The week before Christmas, we received a surprise parcel delivered by BCHA. It had a food voucher, chocolates, Christmas crackers and gifts for the children. It was a huge lift to receive this. It just made me feel a little lighter and took away some of the pressure. I felt like we had been thought about and not forgotten.”
BCHA is urging local people and businesses to get behind the appeal – even a small donation can make a big difference to someone in need. The appeal launched on 1st November and will close on the 13th December to allow time for BCHA’s services to organise their festive treats.