The festive season can be a lonely, isolating and sad time for people experiencing homelessness. Often they find themselves without a home over due to family breakdown or the loss of a family member and so have no one to share this time of year with. The Christmas rush is also followed by a quiet lull in January, which can be difficult for people to cope with when they are on their own.
Simon Community NI works to make sure people in Northern Ireland always have somewhere to go. We provide a warm welcome, a safe place to stay, and specialised support services for complex issues including mental ill health, 365 days a year.
Our teams work with young people, adults and families in an effort to make Christmas a peaceful and happy time for those who are at their lowest ebb.
With the support of local businesses, organisations and generous donations from the public, our staff and clients decorate our accommodation projects, cook Christmas dinners and spend time together – providing a temporary home for those without one.
It is important for staff at Simon Community NI to support the people we work with and help them look after their mental health and well-being during this challenging period. Here are some ways we encourage the people we work with to take care, so they can avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Talk About Your Feelings
It’s hard to admit that you are struggling, but talking about your feelings can improve your mood and make it easier to deal with the tough times. It’s part of taking charge or ‘self-managing’ your mental well-being and doing what you can to stay healthy. It’s important to create space for these conversations and be aware that your Project Support Workers are here to listen.
Research shows that doing exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you to concentrate; sleep and feel better. Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy.
Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only ever temporary. Know your limits and understand that alcohol is not a solution – it’s important to maintain your personal well-being too.
Ask for Help
If things are getting too much for you in the next couple of months and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Our Support Workers are available 365 days a year so if you get overwhelmed or you’re feeling down or concerned about anything, we are here for you.
Do Something You Are Good At
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Keep up a hobby or try something new – it can be a good way to meet people, share interests and forget about whatever is worrying you.
If you want to reconnect with a family member or friend, Christmas time can be a great time to do it. We can support you if you want to get in touch with someone and possibly share Christmas day with family or friends.
For more support please contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 or the Samaritans on 116 123.
If you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless please contact Simon Community NI via our emergency 24/7 helpline on 0800 171 2222.