A cosy seat by the fire, a table full of goodies, a tree in the corner – these are the images Christmas conjures up for many of us, and what they have in common is home.
But even if homeliness is linked in the popular mind with the holiday season, homelessness is a core part of Christian mythology. Jesus was, after all, born in a manger when there was nowhere else for his family to sleep.
‘No room at the inn’ is indeed an apt description of Hackney’s current housing situation. More than 12,000 households are on the waiting list for accommodation, and of those, 2,700 are in temporary housing of some sort.
Others still are sleeping rough or in shelters. And when the council does find a place for people to live, it is increasingly outside the borough.
In this context it is all the more disappointing that redevelopments such as Woodberry Down, which were originally trumpeted as contributing to social housing stock, are now found to be sucking precious affordable living space out of the community.
With public funds in short supply and developers reneging on their promises, the burden on the charity sector is skyrocketing. Like never before, projects such as Hackney Winter Night Shelter and the Winter Toy and Food Appeal need your help.
So gather round the tree and tuck into the mince pies, but remember also what Christmas has always been about: making home for everyone.