Help feed homeless, not your own fat face, charity urges

Toad in hole: A firm favourite with the Portlocks

Toad in the hole: A firm favourite in the Portlock household

The Spag Bol Project, the initiative designed to raise funds for charities which fight homelessness, is once again asking consumers to support the UK’s growing number of homeless people by opting for cheaper Christmas dinners and donating the difference.

Founder Bill Portlock and his family will be having toad in the hole instead of turkey on December 25, and are keen to persuade other households to cut back and share their savings with homelessness charities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the societal split between people who have been able to save money on products and services they would normally buy, and others who have struggled – many of whom have been pushed into homelessness this year, adding to those who were already suffering.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed UK households reduced their spending by an astonishing £80.5bn in the second quarter of 2020 alone. While some of this has been withheld through necessity, more fortunate households have been able to save rather than splash out on holidays, dining out and other discretionary activities.

For others, however, the pandemic has resulted in the perilous situation of homelessness. According to The Big Issue, around 300,000 households in England, Wales and Scotland have contacted their local authority for help with homelessness this year. Meanwhile, the number of people rough sleeping has risen to more than 4,200 people in England alone.

The Spag Bol Project aims to persuade people to make a donation from money they save to help its partner organisations, which include The Salvation Army and Centrepoint, and support those most in need, particularly with a harsh winter to come.

Portlock, who is also managing director of London-based data science consultancy Metrix Data Science, said: “During the pandemic our partner charities are at the forefront of dealing with the most vulnerable, including those affected by homelessness and other groups who desperately need help.

“We know a certain segment of the population is unexpectedly saving money, and we’re asking them to cut back on a lavish Christmas and instead donate savings made to help homelessness.

“It just means fewer mince pies, forgoing Christmas pudding or – as we are on December 25 – skipping the turkey and trimmings altogether for something simpler and stress-free like toad in the hole, or even spag bol.”

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