Homeless charity says voucher scheme gives people on the streets 'hope' at Christmas

One of the eleven charities benefiting from The News Comfort and Joy Campaign is the Society of St James.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 7th December 2019, 6:05 am
The Society of St James' staff and clients unpacking the donations.

The charity is one of the leading organisations in Portsmouth working to make this time of year better for those on the streets.

Mike Taylor, Society of St James’ operations director, said: ‘We work with vulnerable people in Portsmouth, Southampton and Hampshire and provide housing, hostel accommodation and also have our homeless day service.'

The homeless day service in Milton Road, Portsmouth, houses 49 rough sleepers every night and allows individuals to have a shower, store belongings, grab a bite to eat and also seek advice about how to get off the streets.

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‘We’re dealing with around 3,000 individuals at any one time,’ adds Mike.

‘There’s always been a steady demand for our services throughout the year but in the winter months it is more serious because of the harsh weather.’

The Comfort and Joy Campaign, which runs in partnership with Churches Homeless Action, asks members of the public to donate a £5 gift voucher which will then be shared among the 11 charities, including the Society of St James and others such as The LifeHouse, Stop Domestic Abuse and the Roberts Centre.

And Mike, 50, says the voucher scheme can give someone hope at what can be the toughest time of the year.

‘They still need accommodation and a lot of other things we take for granted, but the voucher is a little lift and shows other people are thinking about them,’ he said.

‘It connects them back to the community.

‘It’s a really nice scheme. As a charity we can’t afford to give people presents, but instead we can hand them a voucher which allows them to treat themselves.’

To get involved with the campaign, post your Christmas card and £5 voucher at customer service desks at Tesco in Fareham, Fratton, Cosham and Crasswell Street, Portsmouth. Alternatively, you can post or take them the Deanery Office at St Faith's Church to arrive before December 17.