Ah, Chrismas: warm fires, decorated trees and roast dinners come to our minds, and in particular the opening of presents on Christmas Day. However, many people do not have the opportunity to experience any of this and do not open any presents at all. 

Nearly 25,000 people in Britain will be sleeping rough over the Christmas period. The issue of homelessness has increased dramatically over the past few years, with 9,000 people in London waking up on Christmas Day in the streets. 

In local London boroughs, homelessness is at staggeringly high rates, and this does not only include adults. In Richmond, it is estimated that 392 children will wake up homeless on Christmas Day without any presents to open. However, despite this high figure, Richmond is ranked by some charities as the second best borough in terms of preventing homelessness.

Recently, I had the chance to speak to a homeless person in Richmond named Judy. She said that after getting divorced, she was forced to move away from the home she shared with her ex-husband and two children and did not have a job as she previously was a stay-at-home mum. Now, Judy is preparing to get help from local shelter and charities. 

My mom recently did charity work in March for a company called LandAid, where she slept rough for one night. The temperatures dropped below zero at some parts of the night, and she was ill for the next few days. If one night in the streets had this much effect, imagine the consequences for those who sleep rough every night. 

For children, being homeless at Christmas is even more devastating for them: some ask ‘how will Santa find us?’. Figures suggest that over 130,000 children across Britain will spend Christmas in temporary accommodation. A local councillor Andrew Smith said: ‘We are building 1,850 affordable homes by 2023 and just last week we launched a new Housing Solution Service for families, which will focus on prevention and providing expert advice before people reach crisis point. 

To help reduce the rising, staggeringly high rates of homelessness, you can donate or volunteer at local charities such as LandAid or Shelter and make sure children wake up to presents under a tree during Christmas.