When your business is delivering life-saving services, those serious decisions become all the more difficult. Especially when the crisis is actually causing a huge surge in the demand for help and support amongst the most vulnerable.
Simon Community Scotland is one of the biggest providers of specialist homelessness services in Scotland. In the past two months, we have experienced an increase of 33 per cent across our services for people seeking help. In fact, daily walk-ins to one of our Support Hubs increased by 100 per cent. The effects of rising energy bills and food shopping for the people we support in tenancies and those experiencing homelessness are dramatic.
The rapid change in our economy is worrying, encouraging us to rethink our personal daily spending habits and cut out unnecessary outgoings. However, for those already on the brink of homelessness, these soaring costs can mean the difference between keeping a roof over their head or being forced to abandon the safety of their homes and possibly have no choice but to sleep rough. Even more terrifying, for those who are already homeless.
With the bleakest months of the year still to come, to deliver our priority services, we need to raise more money. This is a serious business decision. The hard truth is more funds are desperately needed to increase capacity at our Hubs and also to help the charity face the spiralling energy bills to allow them to be a warm space for people in need. This is why we have launched our Winter Crisis Appeal.
Today marks ten years since Giving Tuesday was introduced, an annual celebration of generosity that inspires people across the world to come together and do good. Last year, the globally celebrated event saw an incredible 85 per cent surveyed give to charity with the hopes of making a real difference (Giving Tuesday Lookback Report 2021).
The Office for National Statistics reported in April this year that 91 per cent of UK adults will have experienced rising costs and we are certainly seeing this play out. The question is, how will it impact charitable giving. Will it be the first expense people cut?
We have always been so grateful to everyone who has donated to help those affected by homelessness over the years. Especially from the business community across Scotland. And I am appealing to businesses again this year, now more than ever.
Charitable giving has been a part of the workplace for decades. And whilst it is rarely a key focus for any company, charity giving has been known to improve employee engagement and help build connections with the organisations' sense of purpose. Thanks to the kindness of our corporate donors over the years we have been able to continue running our services.
The need for our support and experience is vital and we are having to do far more with less. We want to support and offer hope to as many people as possible by providing practical solutions. Our Street Teams work tirelessly on the frontline, sourcing accommodation for those sleeping rough and, when this is not possible, ensuring people on the streets stay safe, warm and nourished. Our Crisis Packs for those we support across all our services will contain things like toiletries, food vouchers, jackets, warm clothing and a £50 top up for gas and electricity and be personalised to meet the needs of each individual accessing our help.
To mark this ten-year anniversary of Giving Tuesday, one generous corporate donor has agreed to match donations we receive up to the value of £25,000. Every donation, no matter how big or small, will make a huge difference. In fact, it could be life-saving.
We’re extremely grateful to everyone that offers Simon Community Scotland a helping hand. You can support the Winter Crisis Appeal 2022 at www.simonscotland.org/how-to-help/wintercrisisappeal/.
Lorraine McGrath is Chief Executive of Simon Community Scotland