NEW YEAR, NEW CHALLENGES 

When I started working for the organisation in 1985 we provided spaces for less than 30 people and received a grant from the City Council to help us with the costs.  We now provide accommodation for nearly five times as many single homeless people and more than any other single agency in Coventry.  The size of the problem has increased but money is tighter for everybody and now we receive no grant from the City Council.

The Government’s own statistics don’t make for good reading either.  Homelessness is increasing dramatically.  The number of people evicted from private sector tenancies has more than trebled in the last six years.  But these are not people evicted for non-payment of rent or for damaging property; they are often just unable to afford the increase being proposed by the landlord when the tenancy comes up for renewal or maybe the landlord just needs the property back.  This is now the most common cause of homelessness.

Homelessness always gets a lot of publicity in the run up to Christmas although the demand for services actually goes down.  “Goodwill to all men” seems to be the order of the day in December.  But Christmas is over and, ironically, January is one our peak periods in terms of demand.

The people of Coventry were, as ever, amazingly kind with donations and help in the run up to Christmas.  Schools, religious groups, companies and individuals all gave generously which helped us keep the traditions going of providing the biggest and best Christmas Day dinner for the homeless, vulnerable and lonely of Coventry.  A huge amount of thanks goes out to the volunteers and staff who make this possible.   We have served literally thousands of Christmas dinners over a period of more than 30 years.  As a Coventry based charity, we will always focus on local people so anyone who donates to us can be certain where their money goes.

But now Christmas is over, it’s important that homeless people are not forgotten.   I hope another charity won’t mind me plagiarising their strapline when I say, ‘A Home is for Life, Not Just for Christmas’.