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Christmas is the time of year when everyone thinks about family and home which makes it even more difficult for those who are homeless or facing homelessness. As a Shelter helpline adviser, I receive calls every day throughout winter from distressed parents who face spending Christmas with nowhere to call home, often in one room eating dinner over a bed that they share with their children.  I’m lucky enough to have a home that I can spend Christmas in with my family so to take calls from parents who have to choose between paying their rent or buying Christmas presents for their children is especially difficult.

The Shelter helpline is open 365 days a year to help make sure we can to support as many people struggling with housing and homelessness as possible. We received a call for help every 22 seconds in the run-up to Christmas last year and we only expect demand to increase this winter. Yet, on average each week, we are only able to answer around 38% of these calls.

For the last 12 years, M&S has made it their tradition to support Shelter at Christmas by donating 5% of every purchase from their Festive Collection food range to our helpline. Last year, they funded all the calls that we answered over the Christmas period, helping us offer support at a particularly distressing time for those facing homelessness. M&S also support us throughout the year by donating clothing samples to our Shelter charity shops, and through its Sparks card chosen charity donation scheme. With the generous support of customers like you, we’ve raised an incredible £9.8 million since 2005. 

At Christmas, more than any other time, I find it hard to think about the families that won’t have a place to call home, so it’s comforting to know that the simple gesture of purchasing lunch from the Festive Collection can help us support even more people when they feel they have nowhere to turn. It is with your help that we can make a difference to the lives of those experiencing desperate housing need. So, thank you for your generous support.

The Shelter helpline is open all year round, offering support to absolutely anyone struggling with bad housing and homelessness - no matter what their situation. We often find that just one call can be the difference between someone losing their home and keeping it. 

Shelter helps 5 million people a year fight bad housing and homelessness. You can access free and independent advice by visiting and chatting online to one of our experienced advisers or calling our helpline on 0808 800 4444.