Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid
This morning I’ve been thinking about homelessness with my criminology students. Although it’s not a topic I’m an expert in, I have some experience with just how complicated issues of homelessness can be. Previously, I volunteered with a soup kitchen for the homeless for a while and a few years ago I had the privilege of speaking at a conference for a homelessness charity.
With my students we were thinking about how we can respond to homelessness. I don’t think there are any easy answers, apart from that of us always attempting to choose compassion. It reminded me of the 1984 Band Aid concert and the song Do They Know It’s Christmas?
The backdrop was the 1983-1985 Ethiopian famine. It was said that Bob Geldof, at the time the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, and his then wife, Paula Yates, were so moved by a BBC report showing Ethiopians suffering that they decided they needed to do something. So, they pulled together an all-star band to raise awareness and funds through producing a single, and subsequently a worldwide series of concerts.
The group they formed was called Band Aid, with the name being a recognition that they would only be able to put a plaster over the problem rather than solve it fully through their actions. This is where the song and my discussion with the students about homelessness linked. The song exclaims:
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy. Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time.
Putting a plaster over the wound would not solve the problem, but it would show we care. Similarly, there is little each of us as individuals can do to prevent homelessness, but small acts of care and compassion, like providing some food, buying a homeless person a coffee, or even the simple human acts of smiling, saying hello, or stopping to talk, can show we care. We are often disabled by the magnitude of the problem instead of motivated by the smallest of acts we can commit to which will make a difference.
And this is where it relates to wellbeing. When we act towards others with care and compassion, it is not just their wellbeing which is affected. Giving is recognised in the NHS five ways to wellbeing strategy as a means of improving our own mental health. When we show an interest in others, our own wellbeing as well as theirs is affected. So, if you come across someone who is struggling in this period of advent, remember, your small acts of compassion might not change the world, but it could well change your world and theirs.
Need some encouragement to show you care? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?