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Edinburgh artist challenges herself to swim in the North Sea until Christmas Day to raise money for the homeless and those alone at Christmas

A textile artist who has lived in Edinburgh for more than 20 years is challenging herself to swim in the sea every day until Christmas to raise money for Crisis, the national homelessness charity.

Jenny Findlay lives in the South of Edinburgh with her husband and two grown up sons, who are currently living at home due to the pandemic. She recently gave up her job in adult art education to develop her own practice as a textile designer.

Although she was a regular swimmer in the indoor pools of Edinburgh, Jenny only discovered outdoor swimming this year while the pool was shut because of coronavirus. She started going to the beach in Portobello on warm summer days and loved it so much that she was soon swimming two or three times a week.

Jenny’s motivation comes from seeing people sleeping on the streets who are around the same age as her sons and wanting to do something to help. She chose the challenge of swimming in freezing water every day, out of respect to the cold that people endure when they are sleeping rough.

For nearly 50 years the charity has provided volunteer-run centres at Christmas, offering food, clothing, advice and support with health, housing, employment and benefits so that people who are homeless can spend the season in the company of others, and to help put them on a path out of homelessness for good. This year Crisis has adapted its services so that it can provide vital support in a safe and socially-distanced way.

In Edinburgh, Crisis will continue to deliver food and wellbeing packs to people who are homeless as well as providing online activities over Christmas including yoga, dance and crafts. There will also be a telephone befriending service to ensure people stay connected at this especially difficult time.

Jenny said: “Whenever I see people on the streets, I find it very difficult to think about them sleeping out in the cold weather. This year they have the extra risk of contracting the coronavirus. No one should have to live this way. This is a big deal for me as I have never swum in the cold water before, but I want to do whatever I can to help Crisis deliver its services at Christmas and all through the year so it can help people end their homelessness for good.”

 

Richard Lee, Fundraising Director for Crisis said: “This has been a tough year for many of us and it’s shown us how much we depend on each other for connection, hope and support in difficult times. It has also reminded us how essential a safe and secure home is, for our physical and mental wellbeing.  

“We are so grateful to Jenny for taking on this massive challenge. We rely on fundraisers like her to be able to support people who have been forced onto the streets, into sofa surfing, or into a hostels with nowhere to call home and no-one to be with. With the support of people like Jenny, we can give more people a Crisis Christmas and help them leave homelessness behind for good.”

This Christmas help ensure that people facing homelessness aren’t alone. You can sponsor Jenny here: together we will end homelessness.  

Jenny isn’t the only one taking an icy plunge to support people without a home this Christmas. Every year, people up and down the country take part in the Crisis Icebreaker – raising vital funds by braving the cold water of a lake, pool or sea. There are cold water swimming tips on the Crisis website (https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/fundraise/crisis-icebreaker/) and for people not able to go out for exercise, an ice-cold shower works too!