WHAT does Christmas mean to you? The birth of Jesus, happiness, warmth or receiving brand named smartphones in perfectly wrapped shiny glittery paper? For some, the run up to Christmas can a cold, lonely and far from festive time of year.
Over the past 5 years the numbers of people living on our cities streets and presenting themselves as homeless has increased ten fold.
To raise aware of this worthwhile cause, Homelessness Awareness Week is taking place between Saturday 28th November to Saturday 5th December to mark the continued efforts of organisations, staff, volunteers and service users working in the sector.
Now in its ninth year; homelessness organisations, who are currently or previously homeless and the wider community will be organising activities to engage and raise people’s awareness.
Homelessness across the province is becoming a worrying trend; but the numbers of women who are also presenting themselves homeless is escalating.
As well as being a serious problem in its own right, homelessness is also a symptom of wider social problems about the lack of availability of suitable, affordable housing and a series of failures by our government both in Northern Ireland but the wider United Kingdom.
The Housing Executive’s vision is to end long-term homelessness and rough sleeping in Northern Ireland by 2020. As the body with overall statutory responsibility for homelessness, its work will be highlighted by Homelessness Awareness Week.
Other organisations expected to get involved with the Homelessness Aware Week are Belfast Metropolitan College, along with the charity Heart, Stroke and Chest, The Samaritans and Simon Community to name a few.
A full list of events that are taking place across Northern Ireland during Homelessness Awareness Week is available at www.chni.org.uk
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