Twelve PRACTICAL ways to help the homeless this Christmas and New Year.

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THE HOMELESS AND housing crisis in Ireland has continued to worsen and deepen since Christmas last year. Emergency accommodation figures for October found that there are now collectively 9,724 people living in emergency accommodation across Ireland. 
The number of homeless adults rose by 130 adults in October to 5,999. There was a decrease of 104 children in October. However, the number of homeless children in Ireland in October still stood at 3,725. With those figures in mind, as Christmas is fast approaching many charities and organisations will be going the extra mile to make sure people who find themselves homeless this Christmas will have a warm meal to eat and a bed for the night. So, we got in touch with some of them to find out some practical ways to help people who are homeless over the next few weeks, and as we enter the new year. 
Show empathy: Christmas can be the loneliest time of the year for some people so approaching someone that is homeless and having a conversation with them can go a long way. Often our outreach teams who go out late at night are told that they’re the first people to stop and have a chat with a homeless person that day. If you want to buy a hot drink and something to eat for a homeless person ask them what they would like. Often people will buy a sandwich or drink out of compassion but by asking the homeless person what they would like they are giving them the choice in what they eat.
Volunteer: ICHH is completely reliant on the volunteers that keep our charity going seven days a week.If you have ever considered volunteering you can get in touch with our volunteer coordinator Ann on volunteering@ichh.ie as there are a number of volunteer roles available. You can volunteer on the front line as part of our outreach teams or in the office by covering reception, driving our mobile outreach unit during the day, sorting clothes donations or making sandwiches for outreach.If you have never volunteered before our advice would try it, people often ask how they can help more and by giving a couple of hours a week to ICHH you can.
Hold clothes appeal: We also require second-hand clothes to redistribute particularly over the winter months so how about doing clothes appeal in your local area? Pick a drop off point on a certain day and invite people to do a clear out of their wardrobe and donate the clothes to ICHH.
Give a voucher: We are appealing to the people of Galway and beyond to donate a voucher to someone facing homelessness. The practicality of a gift like a voucher would enable us to provide some extra support to an individual or family experiencing homelessness this Christmas, relieving some financial pressure they may be facing, and offering the dignity of being able to provide something for themselves or their families that others may take for granted.
Give a food donation: Every year, we provide food hampers to each of our clients, which is made possible by the food donations they receive from the public around Christmas. We accept donations of non-perishable foods including tinned food, pasta, rice, cereal, tea and coffee, soups, treats, as well as hygiene products and fire packs.
Campaign for change: Help the Simon Communities to keep this issue of housing and homelessness at the top of the government’s agenda all year round. Talk to your local representatives and tell them your concerns about the many thousands of people who are either trapped living in emergency accommodation or are living in fear of losing their homes.
Don’t blame: Stop seeking to blame homeless people for their circumstances which may be no fault of theirs.
Respect: Treat homeless people you see with respect. A kind word won’t hurt you.
Call: Call on local authorities and hotel owners to promise security of stay over Christmas and the New Year for families in emergency accommodation in hotels and B&Bs.
Continue to lobby: Continue to lobby your public representatives to push for more urgent action to reduce homelessness.
If you are a landlord: Consider the consequences for families before you increase the rent or give notice this time of the year. Start a conversation about safe alcohol and drug use: At Ana Liffey Drug Project, sadly, we have known too many people to die from an overdose over the festive season. Our top tips for keeping yourself safe this Christmas are: Talk with friends and family. Start a conversation about alcohol and drug use in general, and about how to reduce harms.