Not everybody looks forward to a relaxing break spent with family and friends over Christmas. As we plan for the festivities ahead many of us would like to do something to support those in our community who are struggling. But how best to do this?
Uttlesford is a rural area and so presents unique challenges for both people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness as well as the services which provide support. Although homelessness is not as visible here as it is in bigger towns and cities, it does exist. During the last 6 months we have advised 23 homeless clients and 42 clients threatened with homelessness as a result of relationship breakdown, domestic violence, eviction or possession action by social or private landlords – and homelessness is not just the preserve of the young – last year 15% of these clients were aged over 60.
Our aim is to work with clients to stop situations spiralling out of control, working on the principle that ‘prevention is better than cure’. We always endeavour to keep clients in their homes, for example by negotiating with landlords or dealing with debt problems to prevent evictions. Where this is not possible, perhaps following a relationship breakdown, we will look at a client’s homelessness status and work with the district council or local charities and churches to help them secure short term accommodation and ultimately a home that they can afford in the long term. As a last resort we will try to find clients a place in a shelter, but this requires travel out of our area, to Cambridge or Chelmford, (Stortford or Harlow also have Christmas options). In this situation we apply for funds from local trusts or charities to cover transport costs.
Ultimately we want to support clients to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place. So if you would like to do something to help people in your local area, making a donation to Uttlesford Citizens Advice can enable us to help someone vulnerable stay in their home.
To donate, you can send us a cheque made payable to ‘Uttlesford Citizens Advice’ or donate online.
We work with a number of local trusts and charities to provide emergency financial support for people with no money for food, essential transport or to heat their homes. These include Saffron Walden United Charities, Alexia Wilson Trust, Great Dunmow Amalgamated Trusts and Sophie’s Fund. Not all accept donations; but you can donate to Sophie’s Fund, which supports people across the whole of Uttlesford. For details please visit www.sophiesfund.org