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EMBARGOED TO 1 December 2013

Thousands fearful of losing their homes or already sleeping rough in the UK

BBC Radio 4 listeners show they care about homelessness

With Christmas fast approaching, thousands of people across Britain are fearful of losing their homes or are already sleeping rough on the streets.

On 1 December 2013 BBC Radio 4 listeners will, once again, be asked to stand alongside these people and support the BBC Radio 4 St-Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal.


Robert Peston, Economics Editor at the BBC said ‘Radio 4 listeners have shown that the issue of homelessness really matters to them. Last year a record £2m was raised by BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal and that money has been put to extraordinarily good use’.

The Christmas Appeal raises money for the Connection at St Martin’s and the Vicar’s Relief Fund. The Connection at St Martin’s has supported thousands of homeless people helping them to begin the difficult process of rebuilding their lives.

Through the Vicar’s Relief Fund over 2,600 people have received crisis grants this year. Crisis grants help people avoid eviction or enable them to buy essentials for a new place to live.

Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields says ‘St Martin’s cares about those among us who find themselves homeless. We see a real, complex person within the sleeping bag. But we also care about the person walking by, who feels powerless to make things better. The Christmas Appeal matches people’s desperate needs with people’s sincere desire to be helpful. It’s a beautiful tradition.’

Philip is one of the many people that have been supported the Christmas Appeal.

‘I used to work in the City as an insurance broker for a very large company and I was earning a good salary and had a great lifestyle. I was in a long-term relationship but was working very long hours and when I got home at night I would drink to try and relax. I had no social life. It took its toll on my relationship and my girlfriend knew I had a problem with alcohol. She ended the relationship, which was a shock, so I decided to go travelling and lived in different countries in Asia and South America, flitting between jobs. But when things didn’t work out I’d hit the bottle. I went to Nottingham to start afresh, I had family there and wanted to start a college course, but it didn’t work out.

‘I came back to London but couldn’t find work and ended up sleeping rough. No one makes themselves homeless, some people can see it happening but can’t stop it. The catalyst for me was alcohol – my dad was a raging alcoholic. It was summer and I slept rough in different places. When I was on my own I was really alone. I don’t have a great relationship with my family so it was better that they didn’t know about my situation. I got involved with people drinking and we slept under Waterloo Bridge.

‘I had an assessment at The Connection and started using all the services. They helped me in so many ways including finding accommodation and volunteering.

‘I’m taking every day as it comes. I’m staying off the booze, but I need to have reasons not to drink. The Connection has given me a chance to change things. If I hadn’t come through the red door I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you, I’d be in drunk in a doorway.’


Download text only version of this press release

Notes to Editors
This year’s Christmas Appeal will be broadcast on 1 December 2013 at 7.55am. Later that day Libby Purves will present ‘Received with Thanks,’ which examines how the money given by Radio 4 listeners has transformed lives across the UK.

Social media users are being asked the question ‘What matters to you at Christmas?’ using the tag #whatmatters

Main website

Broadcast Schedule:
Launch of the BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal
Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields
Sunday 1 December 2013 – 7.55 am & 9.27 pm
Thursday 5 December 2013 – 3.25 pm

Received with Thanks 
Sunday 1 December 2013 – 9.45 am & 5.40 pm
Friday 6 December 2013 – 3.45 pm

Available for comment:
Tim Bissett – Director, St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal – 07957 11203 
Revd Dr Sam Wells – Vicar, St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Robert Peston overlooking St-Martin-in-the-Fields

Robert Peston appeals on behalf homeless and vulnerable people across the UK. for download

See our Youtube Channel to hear homeless people taking about what matters at Christmas.

Social Media:
Twitter: @smitf_Christmas


About the Appeal
The BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal is celebrating its 87th anniversary. It started when the then vicar of St Martin’s, Dick Sheppard, was preaching at a service broadcast on the BBC. He asked the listeners from around the world to mark the holiday season by sending in a donation to support those in need. The result was phenomenal, and sparked a partnership with the BBC that has been instrumental in helping thousands of people in need every year. In 2012 the Christmas Appeal broke the £2 million mark for the first time. This year we hope to raise even more money to support homeless and vulnerable people through the work of the Vicar’s Relief Fund and The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Additional Information

Tim Bissett
Director – BBC Radio 4 St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Appeal
St Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square
Tel: 020 7766 1134 (direct line)
Mob: 07957 611203

Marc Gascoigne
Church Communications Officer
St Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square
Tel: 020 7766 1133 (direct line)

Sophie Balaam
PR & Marketing Officer
The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields
12 Adelaide St
020 7766 5555 (direct line)