Help spread the festive spirit - Josh Littlejohn MBE
In the face of a global pandemic, almost all sections of Scottish society have faced immense challenges and difficulty. Many profitable businesses have been forced to close their doors, thousands of hard working people have been made redundant, and thousands more have been pushed to the breadline.
For many, this has meant having to rely on food banks or even worse being unable to meet their rent and losing their homes. Alarming figures now show that by October 31, some 14,121 households were in temporary homeless accommodation, 21 percent up from 11,665 on March 31. These are the highest figures on record.
Even in the face of this widespread adversity, our charity Social Bite has experienced incredible generosity and compassion from the people of Scotland - exactly when it has been needed most. Thousands of people from all walks of life have come together and dug deep to help those in the most desperate of situations during this pandemic. This generosity has enabled Social Bite to produce and distribute over 815,000 emergency food packs and essential items to vulnerable people since the pandemic began. Whilst we are proud of the scale of this emergency food distribution so far, we must re-double our efforts as we approach Christmas.
While this Christmas will be different for everybody due to guidelines and social distancing, the majority of us will be in warm homes with full fridges, surrounded by at least some of our loved ones.
However, an estimated 320,000 people all over the UK will wake up on Christmas day in a situation of homelessness – sleeping out in freezing conditions on our streets or caught up in temporary homeless accommodation, with hunger and loneliness being real issues.
In an effort to make a real difference to these people, Social Bite have launched our Festival of Kindness campaign to help spread the festive spirit across the country and ask those who can, to donate so we can get food, essential items and shelter for those who need it most this winter.
We have placed large Christmas trees, that we are calling “Trees of Kindness” in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh and the West End of Glasgow so people can visit and drop off gifts under the trees to support the campaign. So far, we have received over 5,000 gift donations across both Glasgow and Edinburgh donated to our volunteers at these trees. We will be distributing these gifts to homeless and vulnerable people just in time for Christmas.
And for those who can’t make it along to one of our Trees of Kindness in Edinburgh or Glasgow, we are also working with Itison again this year to help fund Christmas dinners for homeless people. On their website, you can donate £5 to help buy a homeless person Christmas dinner and we have been truly blown away that the public have already bought over 64,000 meals!
Whilst many businesses have suffered in the pandemic, some sectors have been fortunate to have boomed. One of the big winners of the pandemic has been the online food delivery service, Just Eat, as people have found themselves ordering more takeaways during the lockdown. It is critical that the pandemic’s winners give back when it is needed most and I am thrilled the Just Eat are doing just that. They are supporting Social Bite this year by offering customers across the UK the chance of making a £3, £5 or £10 donation when they order a takeaway and Just Eat will match it, pound for pound. This will help us bring our food provision efforts all over the UK.
The generosity displayed by the people of Scotland has meant that we are on target to distribute over one million food and essential items since the beginning of the pandemic and it is truly incredible to see so many acts of kindness and such a sense of community spirit in the midst of such difficult times.
The smallest acts of kindness can genuinely mean the world, especially at Christmas, so I’d like to encourage everyone to get involved by either making a small donation or coming along to drop a gift off at one of our Christmas trees - so we can try to ensure that everyone in Scotland has a merry Christmas.
To find out more or donate, please visit https://social-bite.co.uk/festival-of-kindness/
Josh Littlejohn MBE is co-founder and CEO at Social Bite.
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