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Homeless person sleeping rough Homeless person sleeping rough  (2017 Getty Images)

Caritas Anchor House: Accompanying the homeless

Traditionally, Christmas is a time when family and friends come together to celebrate the birth of our Lord. It also conjures up images of joy, generosity and the exchanging of gifts. But unfortunately, that seasonal cheer will not be the reality for many as they find themselves without a home, in severe economic difficultly or without anyone to share Christmas with.

By Lydia O'Kane

One of the organizations that provides support to people in need, not just over the holidays, but all year round is the London based Catholic charity, Caritas Anchor House, a former seaman’s mission which now provides residential and life skills services to over 220 single homeless adults each year.

It’s interim Chief Executive, is Andy Haines, who says that homelessness is a rising problem in the UK and that the 140 places they presently have are completely full. He adds that “older people are coming to us and younger people are coming to us.”

Listen to the interview with Andy Haines

What Caritas Anchor House sets out to do, the interim CEO comments, “is to help them (those without a home) on a journey from their homelessness into a life where they can live sustainably, independently and contributing to society with a degree of security and a sense of place that they don’t have when they come through our doors.”

The charity assesses those who come to them, to see where they are at in their lives and as Mr Haines emphasizes, the “problems that have led to them becoming homeless can be… complex and multiple.”

Generosity at Christmas

The problem of homelessness is an issue that affects people all year round and not just at Christmas, but can this festive season serve to highlight the plight of those who have nowhere to live? Andy Haines says that, “undoubtedly it is a focus at Christmas that people do have on the plight of the homeless and I think we do see more people coming to us around this time of year and offering food; offering clothing; giving us money to specifically pass on to our homeless residents to assist them in whatever part of their lives that we deem fit. He goes on to say that, he hopes that “what people are feeling at Christmas they don’t forget after twelfth night…”

22 December 2017, 12:45