How are you feeling this month? January is reputedly the month in which many of us struggle. Over-spending at Christmas, the wait for a pay cheque as it’s a longer month, and the dark evenings, can all add up to a feeling of gloom.
That’s now embodied in Blue Monday – which this year fell on January 15 – which is said to be the most depressing day of the year. It’s calculated on factors including the weather, finances and perhaps the failure of new year’s resolutions, as well as the distance from pay day.
Of course, we should add into this the cost-of-living crisis and the fact that already worrying fuel bills are set to rise by five per cent this month.
This can make January a difficult time for those of us who are fortunate enough to have health, shelter and food. But imagine if you don’t have those things. January is a particularly bleak time to be homeless.
You have all been exceptionally generous in the run-up to Christmas, helping to raise more than £120,000 in our Giving a Home Christmas appeal, enabling people to have a place to call home, and I want to thank you for that. Every pound given to that appeal really does help and alter lives for good.
We are all acutely aware that homelessness is a growing issue. There are fewer rental properties. The rent of those available is rising. The amount of social housing has decreased. And people are seeking a safe haven in the UK from wars and climate change. The outcome of all of these factors is that some 309,000 people in England still don’t have somewhere to call home.
Homelessness isn’t something that happens to other people. It’s something that could happen to any of us. I was struck by this recently, seeing a television report about a mother-of-four who worked full time, but whose rented house was being sold. Rents had risen in her town, and there simply wasn’t anywhere that she could afford to rent. She wept as she told the reporter, ‘I feel that I’m letting my children down’.
We exist to help people like this mother, who find themselves in need of somewhere to call home. However blue this January feels to us, it must feel so much harder to people facing or already experiencing homelessness.
But, we can and are making a difference. You are helping us to do that. So, as a new year’s resolution, let’s keep going. Your gifts, time and prayers all help to change people’s circumstances and to bring a light in the darkness. Thank you.
David Smith, CEO, Oasis Communtiy Housing