Train stations and Christmas go together like a punch and the first of the month – in other words, the combination is usually painful.
Most of us try and avoid trains during the festive period, or at least brace ourselves for delays and packed carriages – we’re, undoubtedly, the lucky ones.
Still, you can’t imagine many people – apart from our hero doctors and nurses and emergency services as well as all those saintly shift workers – will be committing to the commute in London on Christmas Day.
Yet London Euston train station is going to be packed to the rafters with festive cheer on the 25th this year, because the station is opening its doors to the homeless.
London Euston station will be filled with decorations and tables set for a full festive dinner on 25 December and rail workers will serve food to the 200 homeless people invited to the event, with the help of charity workers.
About 30 volunteers from Network Rail will work alongside charity St Mungo’s and Streets Kitchen to provide ‘some festive cheer’, BBC reports.
Euston station manager, Joe Hendry, said the station team was looking forward to bringing the ‘unique event to life’.
Steve Naybour, of Network Rail, who is leading the team running the event, added:
Using a station to give homeless people a Christmas dinner and some festive cheer is a great thing to do.
I’m proud to say we’ve had lots of interest from Network Rail colleagues to volunteer to come along on the day to help out.
Everything, including people’s time, has been donated.
The charity Streets of London state more than 8,000 people slept rough on London’s streets during 2016/17 – and add the number has more than doubled in the last six years, increasing by 170% in the last ten years.
On a wider scale, illustrating our systematic societal problem with homelessness, Shelter estimate more than a quarter of a million people are homeless in England.
It’s a ‘conservative’ number and in fact, figures are probably much higher.
The kind folk over at London Euston, alongside Network Rail, aren’t the only ones doing their bit to help rough sleepers stay safe over the holidays.
UNILAD spoke to Manchester-based charity, Tunafish, about their mission to get restaurants to feed the homeless community – all the while combatting the ridiculous food waste in the industry.
Some of Manchester’s rough sleepers told us they ‘wouldn’t eat’ without initiatives like this:
Tunafish, working with another local charity, Coffee for Craig, are just two of the initiatives hoping to ease the immense burden living on the streets can have on a homeless person.
Yet more needs to be done, on a governmental level.
Jonathan Billings, 40, project manager of The Wellspring in Stockport, told UNILAD:
There’s stuff being done by the government, a lot of people see them as the big bad wolf that wants to see anyone homeless.
They’re not, but some of the decisions they’ve made have been hard hitting on the poorest of people and that needs to be reversed.
More services need to be put in place and some of these drastic cuts made to essential support staff, dealing with substance abuse, social workers, mental health workers and housing officers have certainly not helped.
This comes as a community have brought in fines for homeless people pitching tents in certain areas, showing just how deep-rooted society’s dismissal of the homeless can be.
You can help by donating to Shelter or volunteering at one of the many kitchens set up nationwide.
‘Tis the season of goodwill to all men, after all.