“Once again the community has demonstrated that it cares about those who are marginalised and vulnerable in our society.”
That message comes from Cecil Weir, Fundraising Director at Julian House, after the charity announced that a challenging target for its annual Christmas Appeal had been passed, and some. With just a few pledges still to be included the final figure will exceed £191,000.
In late November Julian House kicked off the campaign with a daunting target of £170,000. Although 2020 had already been a difficult year for most good causes to raise funds, Julian House knew that it had to be ambitious if it was to carry on funding its frontline services for those without homes and other vulnerable groups.
Cecil Weir has been running the campaign for the last 20 years: “I can honestly say that every year I am filled with apprehension about how it’s going to go. Yes, we have a good many loyal supporters, some of whom have been with us since we began as charity in the late 80s but 2020 was very unusual, for everyone. Our charity shops have been closed for a significant part of the year and a number of key fundraising events cancelled. We simply didn’t know how individuals, businesses and community group would respond.”
Leaving aside the impact of COVID-19 the Julian House Christmas Appeal is of major significance to the charity because it helps to fund services throughout the rest of the year – long after the seasonal uplift in awareness about homelessness has subsided. Another important element of the campaign is to highlight the breadth Julian House’s – not just supporting those without a home.
Julian House has sought to demonstrate to the wider community that the men, women and children which it supports are just ordinary people who find themselves in very difficult situations: victims of domestic abuse; many who are affected by mental health issues; family breakdown; impacted by childhood trauma and addiction issues.
“Our clients’ stories often have similar themes, but everyone is different and there are no one size fits all solutions. Like the rest of society COVID has caused extra stress for them too but in amongst it all they have shown reliance and the dedication and commitment of my colleagues to carry on delivering support and keeping services open for them, has been humbling. However, despite all my colleagues’ efforts their task would be immeasurably more difficult without the support of the public and other organisations.”
One direct result from the successful Christmas appeal will be to support the provision of 13 extra bed spaces for those without a home until the end of March.
Cecil Weir is keen to express his thanks on behalf a group of people who often struggle to have a voice in society: “Some of the messages in letters and on our online fundraising pages have been really heart-warming and when circulated to my colleagues have given them a great boost. From everyone at Julian House, staff, clients and volunteers, a huge thank you. We couldn’t do what we do without you.”