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Homelessness at Christmas: where to go

At this festive time, I cannot but think about people who are homeless and also most likely unable to afford food (hungry). Most refugees have been homeless at one point or the other in their lifes. Homelessness is difficult, but can be more difficult at Christmas time when families get together, love and gifts are shared, and the weather is particularly cold.


Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 10 December 1948 by the UN General Assembly, contains this text regarding housing and quality of living:


Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care, necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.


A homeless person can be defined as an individual who:

1. lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence; and

2. has a primary night-time residence that is -

• a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill);

• an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or

• a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings


An immigrant may be homeless because:

1. His/her asylum application has failed and is unable to return back to his/her home country (because it is not safe) or work (because he/she is not allowed to).


2. He/she has never applied to the Home Office because of fear, and is unable to work because he/she does not have the right to.


Whatever your homeless/health situations are, there are places you can go for advice:

1. North of England Refugee Services (NERS): If you live in the North East of England and you are an immigrant, then you can go to NERS for advice. NERS Offices are at Jesmond, Bigg Market-Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Their offices are located at:



Phone: 0164 221 7447

Fax: 0164 221 0200

Address: 27 Borough Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 4AD

Opening Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 0900-1700; Wednesday 0900-1300



Phone: 0191 222 0406

Fax: 0191 222 0239

Address: 19 Bigg Market, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 1UN

Opening Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 0900-1700; Wednesday 0900-1300



This One Stop Service is run by the North of England Refugee Service.

Phone: 0191 510 8685

Fax: 0191 510 8697

Address: 19 Villiers Street, Sunderland, SR1 1EJ

Opening Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 0900-1700; Wednesday 0900-1300


2. Citizens Advise Bureau (link


3. If you are homeless, you’re still entitled to access free health services on the NHS and a right to choices about your care.


4. Charities such as Crisis ( or Shelter ( can help you access health services.  Crisis is a national charity for single homeless people. The charity aims to end homelessness by delivering education, employment and housing services and through campaigning for change in the future. Their work includes both preventing people from becoming homeless and finding solutions for those who are already homeless.


5. You can also contact your local council ( out about advice for homeless people) which will be able to provide information on local homeless services in your area and provide housing support and assistance.


Homelessness at any time is a difficult situation, however there are places you can go for help. NERS is particularly for immigrants (asylum seekers and refugees), CRISIS, SHELTER and CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU are for everyone. Please note that NERS might not provide food and shelter, but might be able to direct you to the right places to get these things.

Merry Christmas.

The Healthy Wellbeing



1.Article 25 - Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted 10 December 1948. Taken from the United Nations website.

Accesssed: 15/12/2011


Accessed: 16/12/2011

3.Local council’s website for homeless people, out about advice for homeless people


4.NHS Choices, ‘Homeless die 30 years younger than average’,

Accessed 21/12/2011

5.North East Refugee Services, ‘One Stop Services – North East’,

Accessed: 15/12/2011


Accessed: 16/12/2011



homeless people 2 homeless people