Bright Christmas lights and cheery music blasting from the shops, while men and women sit freezing in doorways, huddled in blankets, begging for money. The contrasts on our high streets at this time of year can be startling.
The contrasts jar us as we do our Christmas shopping, and we want to know how to help. Glasgow is a generous city, especially at this time of year. The phones in our office ring constantly in November and December with people wanting to know what they can do. So we’ve complied a handy list of four ways to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of men and women affected by homelessness this winter.
1. Take time to talk
We know that beneath the tinsel and tinny pop music, many of us struggle at Christmas, feeling the contrast between the perfect Christmas families portrayed in supermarket advertising, and our own less than perfect lives. It’s not so difficult to realise that for a lot of our guests, Christmas can be a particularly tough time of year as they are isolated from their families and life has not gone well for them.
As you walk down the street, make eye contact and say hello to people who are begging. It might not seem like much, but it can make a big difference to someone who has been ignored all day. You could give out our ‘How you can help cards’ to connect the person to our day time services and we have cards for the Glasgow Winter Night Shelter which is open until 31 March.
There’s more information about the cards on our online shop.
2. Buy the best Christmas dinner in Glasgow
A gift of £7 will provide a hot Christmas Dinner for someone struggling in Glasgow. You’ll be helping us to provide a great Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and great company to men and women affected by homelessness. It’s always a brilliant night and a great way to show our guests that God loves them and that the Christmas story – the gift of Emmanuel – is for them. And it helps us connect people to our daytime services designed to help them move forwards with their lives.
Find out more and make a donation on our website.
3. Build community
Relationship breakdown is one of the key causes of homelessness. And many people only seek help when they are already in crisis. Many of our guests tell us that when they are not with us in our city centre building, they feel isolated and alone. Building relationships and a strong sense of community can help prevent homelessness from happening.
This advent could you think about people in their workplace or neighbourhood who might be finding the Christmas season tough and invite them out for lunch or drop in with a Christmas present?
Prayer makes all the difference. Please be praying for our guests over the Christmas holidays. Maybe you could pray every time you open your advent calendar or as you decorate your tree. We really appreciate prayer, and regularly update our website with our latest prayer news.
It’s all about relationships
Our high streets are so busy at this time of year with people buying presents for friends and family. But at Glasgow City Mission we have found that what our guests most want is the gift of time and of relationship. By stopping to talk to people out on the streets, befriending a neighbour who might be lonely, or donating to our Christmas appeal to allow us to spend time with people over a meal, you will be making a tangible and lasting difference in the lives of people affected by homelessness. After all, the Christmas story is about the lengths God goes to so He can build relationships with you and me.