17 October 2008
London’s homeless women visit cinema as UK makes a difference
People across London are preparing to give their time and energy to help others as part of CSV Make a Difference Day, the UK’s single biggest day of volunteering on Saturday 25th October.
Over 40 activities are scheduled to take place across London during the two weeks either side of the 25th, starting this Saturday. One of the events for this year’s campaign will involve volunteers accompanying a group of homeless women to the cinema, followed by dinner in a restaurant.
The project, organised by the Junior League of London in partnership with the Connection at St Martin in the Fields, was developed in consultation with homeless women of London.
Meredith Niles, who has been volunteering with the Junior League since 2000, says: “When we met with the Connection to discuss ways we could partner with their homeless women’s group, I was shocked to hear one woman say she hadn’t been to the cinema in 30 years. Another one told me she had once won a free cinema ticket but never went. She had been intimidated by the idea of other people reacting negatively to her presence at the cinema. She wouldn’t go on her own but didn’t know anyone who could afford to come along.”
UK homelessness charity Crisis estimates that about 20,000 people live in hostels and other accommodation for homeless people in London, while 289 are known to sleep outside on any given night. One study however estimates that there may be as many as 150,000 homeless individuals (including the “hidden homeless”) in London alone.
Social exclusion is identified as one of the biggest challenges faced by homeless people. Meredith says: ”Even though this is just one evening, it encourages homeless women to take the step they need to get back on track. Some of them struggle to imagine having a different life, so this one night could help them think about an alternative. This is also an eye-opening opportunity for volunteers. It shows to them that homeless people are real people, who are very much like them, while providing them with an insight on the realities of homelessness.”
Other projects to take place as part of CSV Make a Difference Day include volunteers helping to introduce teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds to the idea of a CV and the interview process, young refugees and volunteers coming together to cook for fundraising purposes, along with a variety of gardening activities to renovate local communities.
Simon Tiller, Campaign Coordinator for CSV Make a Difference says, “This is not the first time that the city’s local people, groups and businesses have taken up the challenge to highlight important issues or give time to improve the lives of others. Each year the passion to make a difference seems to get stronger.”
In the build up to CSV Make a difference day, free how-to guides to help get people started are available, giving tips on some of the different activities that people can organise.
This year’s CSV Make a Difference Day guides include:
• How-to Pass on Your Cooking Skills
• How-to Help Nature Fight Back – (with wildflower meadow seeds for the first 300 respondents)
• How–to Build a Green Greenhouse – (with broad bean seeds for the first 100 respondents)
• How-to Knit Somebody Warm in Winter
• How-to start a Flashmob-with-a-Purpose
• How-to be a Greener Cook
The free How-to guide will be sent out to anyone who requests it. Simply visit www.csv.org.uk/difference or call 0800 284 533, and if you register a project, you will also receive, certificates, balloons, stickers, T shirts and posters.