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Christmas dinner plea from homeless charity that helped 672 in Hackney this year

PUBLISHED: 15:01 18 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:11 20 December 2017

Natalie is now looking forward to spending Christmas with her family. Picture: SHP

Natalie is now looking forward to spending Christmas with her family. Picture: SHP

Archant

A charity that has helped hundreds of homeless people in Hackney this year is pleading for £10 donations to help buy them a Christmas dinner.

The Single Homeless Project (SHP) runs a support service in Well Street that refers people to shelters outside the borough. It supports people who are either on the street, in temporary accommodation, or at risk of becoming homeless.

As part of its new campaign A Year of Hope, it is asking for help offering people a timely boost over the holidays so they can make progress and get back on their feet next year. A £10 pledge would buy a meal on Christmas day for someone at one of their hostels.

Almost 1,000 people have been accepted as homeless in Hackney this year, and 2,900 have been placed in temporary accommodation.

The charity has helped 672 people in the borough so far in 2017. They include Natalie, who was referred in August but is now looking forward to spending Christmas with her family. The Gazette has been asked not to print her full name.

Natalie started drinking and smoking at 14 and at 16 ran away from home after continual harassment from an ex-boyfriend.

She was able to stay with friends for a bit but soon found herself on the streets, where she stayed for more than two years – riding around on night buses to be alongside other youngsters.

After finding accommodation she continued to drink and take drugs, largely to cope with her physical and mental health problems.

But with SHP’s help, she took part in Sober October and has distanced herself from friends who she felt were a bad influence. And now she’s feeling festive.

“I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas last year – I was in a nasty place back then,” she said. “I’m in a much better place now. I’ve even been singing some Christmas songs.

“I’m going to put my tree up and go to my mum’s on Christmas day. It will be nice, being together with her and my sisters. “

Natalie is taking it one step at a time, but things are looking up and she wants to start working with children.

“Without SHP, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take part in these activities. They have given me more support than I ever had before. I feel happier about my life; and have a more positive outlook. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

How to donate

The SHP says it wants to make 2018 a year of hope and positivity for Hackney’s homeless people – but it is in desperate need of support.

A £10 donation to the A Year of Hope campaign will pay for Christmas dinner for one person, and boost their confidence ahead of the new year.

Alternatively, a £20 offering will enable the SHP to introduce therapeutic sessions for a homeless person struggling with their mental health.

Donate £50 to give someone access to education and training that could help them get back on their feet, or if you’re feeling especially generous, the SHP say £75 could help find someone a home or job so they can leave homelessness behind.

To donate, visit shp.org.uk/donate or text £10 MICA02 to 70070.

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