The people that give up their time on Christmas Day have always bemused me. As a selfish youngster I imagined it was just something to make yourself feel better before getting on with the presents, the people and the Christmas you really wanted.
This year I spent a couple of hours literally making tea and washing up at a community cafe. Like most of us who are lucky enough to get to this age (I am acutely aware I am now the same age as the average life expectancy of a homeless woman) I’ve been through some stuff. Life has changed immeasurably. So this year I decided to shake things up.
It is core to my values and those that are the backbone of Your Own Place that we are all equal. The people I made tea for on Christmas Day have also suffered in their lives and have extraordinary stories to share. I was privileged to hear them.
My existence is pure luck. My family, privilege, resilience and character are things that I can take little credit for. My circumstances could change on a sixpence and nearly did.
Those I served tea to have simply been less lucky than me because of where they where born. Which is why social mobility matters. It didn’t just make me feel good, it made me open my eyes, feel human contact with people I don’t spend a lot of time with and privileged to learn of others’ lives. And it’s why following my brief stint of volunteering on Christmas Day that I will be doing more in 2019 (watch this space for volunteer mentoring starting this month).
In short, my least favourite EDP headlines over Christmas reported of Christmas meals/food parcels/cheer etc for the ‘poor’, ‘homeless’ and other destitute people. I truly believe that until be start seeing people, all people, as like us, there will be insufficient will and therefore policy change to bring about true societal change.
It is in everyone’s interest to live in a more equal society. As someone who is probably half way through their working life, I passionately don’t want to be talking about this in 23 years time.