Coventry Comfort Carers is a community project that works hard to offer support to homeless hostels, family hostels and children in care.

credit: coventry comfort carers facebook page

Co-Founder of Coventry Comfort Carers, AJ told iCov that ‘70% of the referrals’ that he gets for food banks are for ‘working families’ and points out that this is specifically an issue for EU Nationals.

‘Seven out of ten of homeless people in Coventry are EU nationals’ AJ told iCov News. He said that ‘we’ve got so many (clients) that work but obviously they can’t afford a place because of the prices. (Some) work 12-14 hours a day and still can’t afford a place to live.

‘They sleep rough while they’re actually working. They sleep under bridges and in tents because there’s literally nowhere for them to go’.

AJ also stated that ‘people are spending their entire wages on rent alone’ which may explain why although the estimated number of people sleeping rough in England was 4,134 in autumn 2016 (BBC News), the number of people using food banks is estimated to be 1.2 million by The Trussell Trust, the largest food bank network in the UK.

Since Coventry Comfort Carers was launched in 2012, they have helped a huge number of working families and individuals in their time of need – including Amanda* and her 18 month year old daughter Daisy*.

Amanda* was a working mother employed by a warehouse. She would work with dangerous chemicals everyday and despite the use of Personal Protective Equipment, her face and body were severely burnt and she was forced to leave her job on her Doctor’s advice. As she could no longer keep up with payments, Amanda* and Daisy* were forced to leave their home.

Alongside help with finding accommodation and food, Coventry Comfort Carers offered a service to help Amanda and Daisy’s lives feel as normal as possible during the festive season. Every year around Christmas they arrange a festive ‘fun day’ in a homeless hostel that holds more than 100 families. Amanda* and Daisy* attended the celebration and AJ says that he remembers Daisy’s reaction lividly:

‘She saw Santa sitting there with all the advent calendars and her eyes just lit up. The smile on her face, she was giggling and she was just one of those kids you fall in love with instantly.’

The fun days are able to run solely through donations made by the local community. For the past five years, Coventry Comfort Carers have run the ‘Christmas Advent Calendar Appeal’ which asks anyone who can afford it to donate advent calendars which will be then passed on to hundreds of children living in healthcare units, domestic violence refugees and children’s homes.

credit: coventry comfort carers facebook page

Alison Coleman, who runs weight-loss classes in and around Coventry, uses her platform as a means to promote the ‘Advent Calendar Appeal’. She said that:

‘The members (of the classes) are fabulous! One only has to ask once and they’re on it. This is the third year that we’ve done it and the responses have just been amazing’.

This year Alison and her members have collected over 180 calendars to donate to Coventry Comfort Carers which will contribute to the project’s goal of 1,000 advent calendars over the festive period.

Although the advent calendar appeal is now coming to a close as we approach 1st December, there is still time to donate. The project is holding a second appeal asking for donations of selection boxes. Of course, these issues aren’t only affecting people during the Christmas period, AJ pointed out that ‘less donations are made during January, February and March’, so follow the Coventry Comfort Carers facebook page here to keep up to date with any new appeals they make.

Any selection box donations can be given in at the Playwrights restaurant on Hay Lane, CV1 5FR or contact Coventry Comfort Carers on Facebook for donation points in CV2 CV3 and CV5.

credit: google maps

*names have been changed to conceal identities

     Hannah Benjamin


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