BUSINESS CHELTENHAM 2020 Christmas COVID

Charity stops taking volunteers on for Christmas during the second lockdown

December is approaching which means it’s that time of the year where families gather to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.

But an entirely different level of uncertainty lingers in the public due to fear over the second lockdown affecting the annual Christmas holiday.

This 2020, Christmas will be different. 

For some, Christmas will be spent in cramped bed and breakfasts, sleeping in cars or in temporary accommodation away from their families. As the colder months approach, homeless people have more challenges to face on top of the current covid-19 pandemic. 

Second lockdown constraints are much stricter. The government advises the public with a strict list of circumstances that will not allow socializing outside your household or support bubble in large groups. They also stress that socializing will be acceptable only for permitted purposes according to the government website.

The list allows for a large group meet-up for work purposes only or providing voluntary or charitable services.

The go-ahead light for volunteering allows the public to support and get involved in helping the community, however, some may feel hesitant to join for the sake of their health and their family’s well-being.

Due to social distancing and large group rules, homeless charity organizations like Cheltenham Open Door will no longer be accepting any volunteers. As of November, applications have been shut. 

This means that although volunteering is encouraged, there are concerns over the space that will be used and the number of people allowed in the venue.

Many charity organizations have had to adapt to the rules provided by the government and essentially having to come up with other ways to continue their cause in a safe environment.

Cheltenham Open door celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019. This year has proved to be a particular challenge’ according to the charity’s Chair Julie Kent.

Despite the challenge, in line with government guidance, Cheltenham’s open door is remaining open during the second lockdown. This means that guests will be able to collect food parcels and hot meals to take away.

Their annual Christmas Shelter will not be like last year’s massive gathering. However, they are determined to bring festive cheer to all the guests. The charity’s co-ordinator Sara Reader, says that on Christmas Eve treats and foods will be available for collection at 39 Grosvenor Street where the guests will have gifts and trimmings during Christmas day lunch.

Distribution Team leader, Rachel Dennis, from Cheltenham food bank says that despite not having a Christmas event, a celebration will still go forward “Via donations, children and families will be given a parcel with gifts and food to take home for Christmas”.

Rachel hints that her team in the distribution department has increased “We now have 20 to 30 people working in the food bank”. However, the hesitance in her voice may suggest worry over the total number of her team.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to confirm whether family gatherings will be exempt during the annual holiday. Whilst there is no clear clarification, Boris Johnson hinted during early October that he will pause coronavirus restrictions preventing the public to gather in groups of more than six. 

Claiming that he would do ‘everything we can to make sure Christmas everybody is as normal as possible’. 

There are only 43 sleeps left until Christmas. Please donate to your nearest homeless charities to help those who are having to endure covid-19 challenges on top of not having a safe place to live.

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