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Crisis celebrates Christmas July-style in Newcastle

On Tuesday 27 July, people experiencing homelessness in Newcastle donned Santa hats and brought festive cheer to the city to celebrate ‘Julymas’ at national homelessness charity Crisis’ Newcastle Skylight centre.  

The event not only provided information, advice and guidance for people experiencing homelessness in the city, but also saw guests enjoy live music, mince pies, turkey burgers, giant pigs in blankets, gifts and of course, Santa in shorts and sunglasses. Aimed at bringing Crisis’ famous ‘Crisis at Christmas’ event to the summer months the event celebrated being able to welcome clients back in person to the Skylight centre now that coronavirus restrictions have lifted.  

As one of 11 centres around Great Britain, the Newcastle Skylight centre provides support and sessions to people experiencing homelessness to help them on a path out of homelessness.  

At the beginning of the pandemic, many of Crisis’ services were provided remotely to ensure that the charity could continue to provide vital support, such as online English and Maths classes and 1-to-1 wellbeing, housing and employment support either over the phone or via Zoom.  

As restrictions eased, the team in Newcastle have provided one-to-one coaching and support in person, where possible, since Summer last year. The Skylight team also provided wellbeing packs containing treats, toiletries and clothing, as well as phones, tablets and laptops – through the charity’s partnership with Tesco Mobile – to ensure that clients could stay connected to vital support whilst in lockdown and potentially shielding or self-isolating. 

Usually at Christmas, the Newcastle Skylight would open a centre in the city to provide Christmas meals for guests, alongside information and advice services, healthcare, entertainment, gifts, but last year, this provision shifted due to the pandemic. Instead, the team delivered almost 250 Christmas dinners to clients along with gift hampers including essentials such as toiletries and clothing. 

Mary has been receiving support from Crisis throughout the pandemic. Of the event, she said: ‘There’s been fabulous food, the sausages were so good! It’s a beautiful atmosphere and everyone is happy and smiley. I’ve had a great time and it all looks amazing!! There’s great music too! Thank you.’ 

Andrew Burnip, Director of Crisis Skylight Newcastle, said: “Julymas has been a great event and it’s been brilliant to mark the restrictions lifting, and being able to provide face-to-face services once again. It’s also just been nice to spread a bit of well-needed Christmas cheer! 

"The pandemic has been a tough time for all of us, especially our clients, but our coaches have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months to be there for everyone we support remotely and provide the same level of care as we usually do. 

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of a safe and secure home for everyone. We’re pleased to be able to welcome clients back to the Skylight centre so that we can provide face-to-face support that is crucial to many people to help them on a path out of homelessness.”