During the Christmas season, the media frequently highlights the issue of homelessness, particularly those who are sleeping rough. Many generous people respond to the very visible needs of street homelessness. For those in transition from Home Office accommodation to mainstream housing, with just a short space of time frame in which to secure accommodation, the threat of homelessness is very real, but scarcely visible to the outside world.
Just before Christmas, Sophia House in Birmingham assisted a young woman who was only two weeks away from street homelessness. They supported her to apply for Universal Credit before the JobCentre closed for the Christmas shutdown.
In the last few days before Christmas, she received emergency funds just in time to avoid her becoming homeless.
Teresa Clements, Newcomer Development Coordinator at Father Hudson’s Care, said, “The opportunity to move to Sophia House lifted a very real threat to this young woman’s personal safety and wellbeing. We shared in her joy at being able to celebrate her first Christmas free from anxiety and looking forward to a bright future in 2019.”
Jo Watters, Father Hudson’s Head of Community Projects, said, “Teresa and the Sisters worked so hard over Christmas to make sure the new resident could settle in. Just because it’s Christmas we cannot close. Asylum accommodation support still ends and people still need our help.”
Christmas also offered the chance to reflect on the kindness of strangers. With its guests at risk of homelessness, they come there with very little. Thanks to the generosity of schools, parishes and individuals, the Sisters were able to give out presents to their guests.
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Sophia House provides accommodation to women who are leaving Home Office accommodation after being granted asylum.
It opened in September 2018 and offers solidarity to newcomers who seek sanctuary in the UK. Sophia House is a partnership between: the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd; Our Lady and St Brigid’s Catholic Parish; and Father Hudson’s Care. To find out more, visit the Sophia House page on Father Hudson’s website.