I know it still feels a bit too early to start talking about Christmas but now the Coca Cola and John Lewis adverts are on, I thought I better start giving some thought to this year’s festivities.
Sadly, for some families in Wolverhampton – and across the whole country – Christmas is going to be a tough time where some will genuinely be debating whether they choose to heat their homes or buy a meal. In 2013 it’s heartbreaking to think that so many people still live in these conditions.
The homeless charity Shelter has just launched an emergency Christmas campaign. According to their figures, 80,000 children will be classed as homeless this Christmas. “One homeless child at Christmas is a tragedy…80,000 is a disgrace”. It’s a sobering thought.
|Our Rent First campaign launches on Monday|
Having a roof over our heads is one of the most basic needs any person can have. Yet sadly we still see people with nowhere to call home.
At Wolverhampton Homes, we’re just about to kick-start our annual ‘Rent First Please’ campaign. For the next few weeks we’ll be knocking on hundreds of tenants’ doors, making thousands of phone calls and working flat out to speak to as many tenants as we can to encourage them to clear their rent arrears before Christmas. I’ve even got a call sheet of numbers so I’ll be mucking in to help the cause as well! We’ll be trying to sort out payment plans and collect owed rent - but we’ll also be showing people where they can get financial and debt advice too.
I saw on the news this week that, on average, people will spend around £29 on each present they buy this. The pressure to buy the latest gadgets and toys for children is overwhelming. For the first time this year, we’ve arranged a Toy Swap for tenants so they can come along and exchange one toy for another as a way of making Christmas more affordable.
Our message is simple – the best gift you can give your family this Christmas is a roof over their head and a place to call home. It might not be glamorous and you certainly can’t wrap it up in paper – but it’ll be there long after the toys and computer games have been put away in a cupboard, never to be seen again.
|Our message couldn't really be more simple.|
Rent arrears in Wolverhampton are up by nearly £250,000 compared to this time last year. Welfare reforms, a stuttering economy, unemployment and years of debts and credit spending are having a huge impact on the city and local people. But, sadly, the reality is; people are at risk from losing their home if they don’t pay their rent.
The overwhelming majority of our tenants pay their rent, on time, religiously and have done for years. But we know it’s getting tougher. But we are here to help if people come and talk to us.
It’s going to be a busy few weeks for everyone here. But if we can help tenants clear their arrears so they can have a more relaxed Christmas then that will be a good job well done.
If you want to find out more about Shelter’s campaign or even donate a few pounds to the cause, visit www.shelter.org.uk.