The charity, Crisis

December 25, 1998

Once called Crisis at Christmas, Crisis changed its name ten years ago to stress that it was hard at work in every season. All too often the charity,dedicated to helping single homeless people who have no legal rights to accommodation, is forgotten as soon as the tinsel comes down. Last year, it raised Pounds 5 million and helped more than 20,000 people.

It maintains a basic three-step approach, which continues 365 days of the year. Its first priority is to help people survive through giving them the basic human requirements of food, warmth and shelter. Next it works on resettling them, advising on benefits and hostel spaces, and providing rent deposit guarantees so they can move into a new home.

Finally, it provides longer-term support, helping them after they have moved into a new home to combat loneliness, deal with bills or beat addiction. Training is an important part of this stage, with programmes to teach people used to life on the streets how to cook, clean and budget.

But the charity is constantly changing to keep up with the changing face of homelessness. For this, it depends on research, which cost it about Pounds 250,000 last year.

The charity has highlighted the startlingly low life expectancy of homeless people - 42 years, compared with over 75 for others. It has shown that nearly a quarter of homeless people have been in the forces and nearly half have been in care.

A team at the University of York is researching women and homelessness for the charity, the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry is researching links between homelessness and drugs and the Institute of Public Policy Research is looking into homelessness and crime.

The importance of all this, says Shaks Ghosh, the charity's chief executive, is its influence on policy and the possibility of changing things for the better.

For further information about Crisis, call 0171-655 8300.

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