By Tania Jacquier
LEEDS CHARITY Streetwise Love is appealing for hundreds of Christmas shoeboxes full of day-to-day supplies to give to homeless people in the city.
The charity runs a drop-in centre for the homeless every week on Thursdays. It will hold its annual Christmas party on December 21st this year at the Life Church Hub on Dewsbury Road.
Between 30-50 homeless people come to the drop-in each week, but the charity is expecting more than 100 for the Christmas party, when the shoeboxes will be handed out.
The party will involve karaoke, live music, a hot Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and giving out the boxes. These contain warm clothes, hygiene essentials, and food items.
It is also collecting shoeboxes for other homeless assistance charities in West Yorkshire.
Paul Emmett is spearheading the appeal. He said: “We’ve got about 10 boxes at the moment, but we are expecting 31 later today, 50 tomorrow, and around 200 more next week.”
As well as the shoeboxes – which are being produced in the style of Samaritans Purse’s ‘Operation Christmas Child – the charity is always looking for volunteers.
They need around 20 every Thursday night and up to 100 to make the Christmas party a special event. Members of the Leeds Rhinos team and students from local universities are among the regular volunteers.
Mr Emmett said although he has seen people get re-homed and get their lives back together, many people fall through the cracks. He estimated that there were around 50 homeless people living long-term on the streets in Leeds.
He believes that the benefits system and the roll out of universal credit is a major issue, and is exacerbating the situation of the homeless. Mr Emmett also feels homeless people should be better represented.
Streetwise Love accept donations year-round for the drop-in, including sleeping bags, warm clothes and food, but they are particularly seeking donations for the shoeboxes.
Anyone wishing to donate should contact Streetwise Love through the Facebook page to arrange a drop-off time. Volunteers are always welcome.