Comedian Jo Brand makes an appeal on behalf of Crisis, a national charity for single homeless people. Jo highlights the vital work Crisis does at Christmas.
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People become homeless for numerous reasons,
but when you find yourself sleeping on the streets it's extremely tough.
When you're sleeping you can feel the cold coming up through
the cardboard, getting into your bones,
and you can't describe the feeling, but you just cannot get warm.
I had about four coats on.
I was known for wearing loads of coats, you know.
It was cold, I hardly ever slept.
I got, like, frostbite, actually, on my toes, you know, as well.
There are tens of thousands of homeless people
sleeping on our streets, in squats, hostels or on sofas every night.
I think it's really shocking to see people sleeping rough in winter,
and it makes me want to do something to help. And it'd be really great
if you could take if you could take a few minutes to help as well.
'Believe it or not,
'the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47.'
I have always been lucky to have a roof over my head,
but I know that every year in Britain far too many people find
themselves without a safe or secure place to call home.
Tony Finney always found it easy to get work and somewhere to live.
I had a good job, a nice flat. I socialised.
It was really enjoyable.
He worked in a hotel, but all that changed after the recession
when the hotel started making cuts.
Basically, lost my job, and within a month of that I'd lost my flat, too.
I think you're probably one or two wage packets away from homelessness.
I sofa surfed for a while,
um, but people's goodwill only lasts for so long.
I ended up sleeping under a bridge.
I was traumatised to go from having everything to having nothing.
A real shock to my system.
He was alarmed by the tough reality of life on the streets.
Sleeping out on the street was a real eye-opener.
Um, I was quite frightened.
Er, and not really knowing what to do,
I wouldn't sleep in shop doorways because I didn't feel safe.
I thought that someone could come along, maybe,
kick me or spit at me, or hit me,
urinate on me, I mean, who knows what could happen?
Tony's search for safety took him
further away from the secure life he once led.
I actually went up to the forest where I got some cardboard,
I had a sleeping bag, so I was sleeping, literally in the snow.
I spent many, many nights shivering.
Um, yeah, it was a real, a real tough time.
It does go through your mind, "Do I really want to exist right now?"
'Living on the streets for someone like Tony can be stressful
'When I was a psychiatric nurse I often met people whose mental
'health had seriously deteriorated through homelessness.'
That's why I support Crisis,
who offer immediate help to people separated from home and family.
For people with nowhere to stay, or no-one to turn to at Christmas,
Crisis is a charity that will open its doors,
welcoming more than 4,000 people at centres across the UK,
giving them a chance to leave homelessness behind for good.
Crisis coordinates the operation from a warehouse in South London.
'Tony had been homeless for six months
'when he was referred to Crisis at Christmas.'
How was it when you first arrived?
It was amazing to actually come through the doors of Crisis
to be greeted by a warm smile, friendly person,
it was just really, really lovely and comforting, to be honest,
and to know that I was going to be somewhere for a whole week.
Guests will enjoy warmth, hot meals, beds, new clothes,
access to doctors, and many other services.
Getting my hair cut was an amazing feeling, it just totally
transformed me from actually being out on the streets to coming in,
and it was just really warm for me
to actually have a haircut and feel human again.
Crisis, at the time, was really important to me
because it helped me move forward in my life.
It gave me new confidence and within a week of actually being
at Crisis I'd actually got my own place,
so it was really transformative.
How's your life now?
My life now is, I'm certainly in a far better place, I'm not...
everything hasn't happened that I'd like to,
but I'm slowly moving forward.
I've volunteered for the last couple of years for Crisis,
and I've also got a part-time job driving.
'Crisis has really helped Tony get his life back on track.'
It may seem particularly harsh being homeless at Christmas,
but homelessness is a year round emergency.
Crisis is busy for the entire year helping people
out of homelessness all over the country.
One person that was in need of help was Ellie Wright.
She found herself homeless trying to escape domestic violence.
I felt really, yeah, lonely on the streets, to be honest.
It's just like, it was horrible, you know.
Even if I was with people I felt alone, you know.
It was just the fear, you know, but the drink kept me company.
That was, like, my only friend, I felt.
Which was... obviously, it wasn't.
It was a big part of my life that was disastrous.
Ellie became completely dependent on alcohol and the damage was immediate.
I lost, like, basically, 3st in about, I don't know,
just over a month to be honest.
It just dropped off because I didn't eat. You know... with being cold.
It was horrible.
Ellie was on and off the streets for three years.
During that time she had to hunt for any opportunity to find safety
Ah, yeah. This is the one.
Yeah, this one.
This is one of the bunkers I used to stay in, you know.
There's a door on it now, and it looks totally different.
It used to be really horrible with the weather, it was freezing.
I had like a duvet somebody had given me, from one of the
local people, it was just, like, but it was never warm enough.
I was always freezing, you know.
It was just, you know, it was just...
a vile, horrible, horrible life.
I got to the stage where I would be thinking,
where I couldn't stand being the way it was.
I just thought, ah, if I went to sleep, I didn't want to wake up.
You know, it just got that bad I just thought,
is this all my life is?
It's just not good.
Things came to a head and Ellie was admitted to a psychiatric unit.
It was when she left hospital that Ellie heard about the Crisis
centre in Merseyside,
one of the charity's year-round services across the country.
When I first came to Crisis I did feel like there was a weight
lifted, you know.
There's people who genuinely want to help, you know,
and see me succeed.
She enrolled on courses that the charity offered to build
confidence, deal with anxiety and help employment prospects.
I've enjoyed the courses with crisis, especially the art
and maths because they've given me a purpose, you know, with the courses.
You know, I just like building up my skills.
Crisis has turned Ellie's life around.
I do feel like crisis have actually, you know,
built up my life again, basically,
cos it was so broken.
If I hadn't found out about Crisis,
I really don't know where I'd be, to be honest.
As I say, I'd probably be dead.
'This year, Crisis has helped thousands of people
'get their lives back on track through its housing,
'education, employment and health services.'
Now Crisis would like your help to support thousands more who
sleep on the streets every night of the year.
Not just emergency help at Christmas, all the year round.
Please donate what you can.
To donate, please go to the website
To give by phone
call 0800 011 011.
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
You can also donate £10 by texting GIVE to 70121.
Texts cost £10 plus your standard network message charge,
and the whole £10 goes to Crisis.
Full terms and conditions can be found at bbc.co.uk/lifeline.
If you'd like to post a donation,
please make your cheque payable to Crisis,
and send it to Freepost, BBC Lifeline Appeal,
writing Crisis on the back of the envelope.
And if you want the charity to claim Gift Aid on your donation
please include an e-mail or postal address
so that they can send you a Gift Aid form.
Comedian Jo Brand makes an appeal on behalf of Crisis, a national charity for single homeless people. Jo highlights the vital work Crisis does at Christmas and right through the year to help some of the tens of thousands of homeless men and women sleeping on our streets, in hostels, squats or on sofas every night.
Jo meets Tony Finney, who was homeless and sleeping rough for six months when he was referred to Crisis at Christmas, which welcomes more than 4,000 people at centres across the UK over the Christmas period. Guests are offered meals, a place to sleep, showers, haircuts, access to medical services and can seek housing, employment and benefits advice. A week after being a guest at Crisis, Tony found a place to live. He now has a part-time job and is getting his life back on track.
The appeal also features the life-changing services Crisis offered to Elly Wright from Merseyside. Elly was homeless for three years after experiencing domestic violence. She was drinking heavily and was eventually admitted to a psychiatric unit. But when she left hospital, Elly heard about Crisis in Merseyside, which runs services for homeless people all year round. She enrolled on courses which have helped build her confidence, deal with anxiety and improve her employment prospects. The experience turned Elly's life around.