Here we are again. What is there to be said that hasn't been said before?
That people will go cold and hungry this Christmas is a given; that they’ll be alone and each left to face their own stark reality, sheltered under doorways and in bus stops, and under bridges, in train stations, on trains, in tents, under threadbare sleeping bags and blankets... all a given. We know this already. You don’t get to adulthood and fail to notice these simple cosmic truths.
So this is just a short note to let you know that you can personally intervene and give something that may be miniscule to you, but which will have an enormous impact on someone you don’t know and likely won’t ever meet.
That cup of tea or coffee that they take back into the cold night is there because another person chose to put it in their hand, or because someone chose to spread the word that rallied others to stand against this plight in our communities that too often goes forgotten. This world is growing colder. Surely, warm bellies and warm hearts could go some way to sustaining us all.
Usually when we reach out to link readers with people like Andrea and her loyal minions doing so much for this community, we try to tie in football somehow. This is a football site after all. Well I’ve got nothing of the sort for you this time I’m afraid. I won’t talk your ear off about what football means to people and what community means to society because you’ve heard it all before. This isn’t about football - it’s about Sunderland.
We are all linked by our love of Sunderland AFC, but the club is just one of the jewels in Sunderland’s crown. Just another way to unite and compete with our neighbours in friendly competition, with nothing but the promise of boasting rights to drive us. Boasting rights that we played the best, that we put our hearts into it, for each other. So when the hard done by and destitute among us need help, who answers?
I spent 14 quid on baccy yesterday. 14 quid on something that will one day kill me; something that I don’t even use for pleasure or joy anymore, but simply out of habit. I’ll spend more on cans for the match this weekend, tucked up nice and cosy in my sitting room. Leccy meter clocking over more per hour than some souls have to spend on a tin of cold spaghetti loops that might be their only meal for the next 18 hours. It’s not the paradise everyone dreams of but I’m safe. My family are safe. There is a roof and a locked door and hot water and cooking apparatus. Ribs in the oven and WiFi up the wazoo. Nothing is unstable (except the shelves). Nothing is left to chance. We’ll be warm tonight and warm tomorrow.
I consider myself a fortunate man.
You could go all day with this. Why is my tobacco consumption relevant to you? I don’t want you to drop your vices and give all your belongings to the poor, this reference just easily serves for me as a simple example of why people like you and me might be able to give something. Anything. We can give a few quid and spare ourselves the headache the morning after cos we drank one less. We can give 50p we’d otherwise spend on a Pink Slice. But as importantly we can give our time and attention to something that is tragically so common that it can be too readily swept under the rug and forgotten about entirely.
It’s Christmas in a pandemic and you’ve got nowt - I feel you, baby. But you’re here now reading this and just by sharing it and the donation links you could be making the difference between a living, breathing soul, and another statistic.
Look outside - is it warm where you are? Class.
If it’s not - can you actually imagine being stuck out in that with no hope?
The people that make the Soup Kitchen a bastion for the cold and lost provide that hope. We get to sit here and know that they’re out there, and we can do just a tiny, minor, almost-negligible something to help them do it. Share, donate, volunteer. Whatever you can.
I won’t keep you. We’ve all got urgent business to be getting on with - ‘tis the season - and our time is precious to us. If you would take a moment of that time to help nudge us all closer to a brighter dawn the next time we all look out the window, some friends you’ve never met will live to silently thank you for it.