English Language Listening Practice To Make A Difference This Holiday Season Ep 601

A photo of a someone sleeping rough on the streets of London. Understanding homelessness in the UK, an English language listening lesson for English language learners.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2545 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 13 min

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An English Listening Lesson To Help Fight Homelessness

Listening to this English lesson is a great way to improve your English comprehension skills and boost your vocabulary. You’ll gain a better understanding of homelessness in the UK and the charities that are working to help those affected. Not only will you improve your English language skills, but you’ll also have the chance to make a difference in the lives of people living on the streets of Britain.

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many of the people living on the streets of Britain. Despite the hard work of charities and volunteers to help, homelessness continues to be a major problem in the UK.

Today, we’ll learn more about this issue and the people affected by it. Through listening to a variety of sources, we can gain a better understanding of the problem and ways to help. Join us as we use our English language skills to learn more and make a difference this holiday season.

✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-listening-practice-homeless-britain/

Every year, thousands of people in the UK become homeless because of a variety of social and economic factors. According to a 2019 report from the Office for National Statistics, about 4,677 people were sleeping rough on any night in England in 2018. This is a decrease from 2017’s figure of 4,751, but homelessness remains an issue in the UK. Charities such as Marie Curie offer help and support to those affected by homelessness, providing expert care, emotional support, and practical help. Through these organisations, we can make a difference in the lives of those affected by homelessness.

This lesson is a great opportunity to practice your English listening skills in a meaningful and engaging way. You’ll be able to listen to a clear and easy to follow Native English speaker talking about charities that are making a difference. By listening to these stories, you’ll gain a better understanding of the issue and the people affected by it. So join us in using our English language skills to learn more and make a difference this holiday season.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Volunteer: A person who chooses to do work without getting paid.
  • Charity: An organization that helps people or animals in need.
  • Homeless: People who don't have a place to live.
  • Homelessness: The state of having no home to live in.
  • Shelter: A place that provides safety and protection.
  • Mortgage: Money you borrow to buy a house, which you pay back over time.
  • Psychologically: Related to the mind and feelings.
  • Authorities: People or groups with the power to make decisions.
  • Accommodation: A place where you can stay, like a hotel or apartment.

Most common 2 word phrases:

Join Us3
Those Affected3
Learn More3
We Can3
To Help3
Rough Sleepers1

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The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: English Language Listening Practice To Make A Difference This Holiday Season

Hi there. Today, let's talk about 'Charity at Christmas'. I'll explain the vocabulary as well here. Let's talk about 'Charity at Christmas' and something that's more of a social issue in the UK.

One of the things that people in the UK sometimes do at Christmas, they volunteer. Or they make charitable donations, donations to charity.

The idea is that even with our cost of living crisis, most of us are warm and comfortable and have enough to eat. So it's a time to think of people for whom this isn't true. Time to think about people who don't have those things.

Christmas is often seen as a time where people give something back. They do something to make a difference, a positive difference in other people's lives. So, which charities do people in the UK think of particularly at Christmas? Listen to this podcast to find out!

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

A problem all year round, but we think of 'homelessness' at Christmas

One of the issues that's foremost in people's minds around Christmas time is homelessness. ' Homeless', H O M E L E S S is an adjective, and that's used to describe someone who doesn't have a home. And 'homelessness'? So H O M E L E S S N E S S. That's just the noun associated with this. So we would say 'Homelessness is a problem in the UK'.

If you haven't visited the UK, you might think, 'Well, it's a rich country. Why are there homeless people?' You may not be aware that homelessness is a problem in the UK - but it is. There are lots of homeless people in London, or we might say 'homelessness is a big problem in a city like London'.

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Charities and being a volunteer

So one of the things that people often do at Christmas is they volunteer to work for a couple of days at a homeless organisation or charity. Vocabulary here? The word 'charity', C H A R I T Y. Well, it's an idea, a concept. It means 'giving, being generous, being helpful, usually to people less fortunate than yourself'. That's the idea of 'charity'.

But we also use that noun as a word for organisations that do charitable work. So, examples that you've probably heard of would be Oxfam, the Red Cross, or the WWF, the Worldwide Fund for Nature. They're 'charities' or 'charitable organisations'.

The noun 'volunteer', V O L U N T E E R. And the verb 'to volunteer', same spelling - it means you 'offer your time, your skills, your energy, and you agree to work for free to help towards a particular goal or purpose'.

One of the things that people in the UK sometimes do around Christmas, they volunteer for the homeless shelters. The word 'shelter', S H E L T E R. You might talk about 'an animal shelter' in a field or a 'bus shelter' on a street where you're protected from the rain while you wait for your bus. We might also use it in the context of a 'bomb shelter' as well, where you're protected safe from bombs. So 'to shelter' means to find somewhere safe and a bit protected.

Listening Lessons

Homelessness can mean 'rough sleeping'

Some statistics on homelessness? These are from the Ashley Foundation, which is a homeless charity that operates in some northern towns, Blackpool, Blackburn, and Sunderland. The Ashley Foundation, they estimate that in the UK there are around 9,000 people who 'sleep rough'. 'Rough sleeping' is another term that we use. That means they're living on the streets. They're sleeping without being in a bed or a building. They're perhaps in a doorway somewhere. That's 'rough sleeping'.

Just thinking a moment about the weather in the UK. I know that there are plenty of places that are colder than the UK, but right now the range of temperatures for today? So it's cold outside, minus four degrees centigrade to plus two degrees centigrade. Not great, if you're outdoors, you don't have much to eat and you don't have anywhere where you can get warm.

And you may not actually see homeless people in the UK. Often what they'll do is ride on buses or on trains for the day. They get a seat and at least it's warm on there. That's better than being outside all day. But many homeless people also sleep in tents pitched on pavements.

That figure of 9,000 is the estimate of the Ashley Foundation for the number of 'rough sleepers' last Christmas, Christmas 2021. They think that this year the number will be somewhat higher.

The Ashley Foundation also quotes research done by Heriot-Watt University in the UK. This research says that homeless people are 17 times more likely to be physically attacked on the street than somebody that has a home to go to.

Risks for homeless people

Homeless people are very vulnerable health-wise. Being out in the cold, rough sleeping, not attending to their healthcare needs. This is all part of it.

It's generally not good for your physical health, and it tends to mean that homeless people have shorter life expectancy. They can't expect to live as long as the rest of us do.

Homeless people are also vulnerable mental health wise - that means 'the health of your mind, your psychology'. It's not good for you psychologically to live on the street. It feels fairly hopeless and quite often it is mental health problems that cause people or are part of the cause of people being homeless in the first place. But of course, having nowhere to live doesn't help your mental health.

How does homelessness happen in a country like the UK?

As I said, you might be really surprised to find that a country like the UK has a big homelessness problem. How and why does it happen?

Often it's a series of difficulties. Someone might lose their job or a relationship might end. They may find themselves unable to pay the rent or their mortgage anymore, so they may lose their house. Perhaps they sleep on a friend's sofa for a while, but after a bit this isn't a good arrangement anymore and bit by bit, they move towards homelessness - eventually they end up homeless.

Often people who're homeless have drug or alcohol addiction problems. Quite commonly, homeless people have lost the support of their family and friends. It might be teenagers, young people who have run away from home because it's not a good environment there for them. They sometimes end up being homeless.

Housing is expensive in the UK and theoretically the state will provide housing for people. The trouble is there are long waiting lists, and this doesn't happen very quickly.


A photograph of a street with expensive houses in London, UK. Improving comprehension and vocabulary for English language learners, a homelessness-themed listening lesson

©️ Adept English 2022

Another reason for homelessness? People sometimes come to the UK as migrants from other countries. They may not have a plan in place. Not everyone can get a job or settle into UK life very easily.

So homelessness can happen for a number of reasons. And once you're homeless, once you have no fixed address, no regular access to technology or electricity even, no means of receiving mail or email, you become 'outside of the system' and it's a process that's quite difficult to turn around.

How to help homeless people

So how can you help people in this situation? Well, the Ashley Foundation suggest first of all, giving your old coats or jackets, especially warm ones, to the charity. They also suggest making a donation. That means 'giving money'. Or you can volunteer at one of their homeless shelters.

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Another good thing that the Ashley Foundation do - they run an app called Street Link. You can download this app to your phone and on the app you can alert the local authorities to a homeless person that you have seen, rough sleeping. When I say 'alert the authorities' that means in order to get them help. And this may result in the homeless person being offered ' temporary accommodation', so being offered somewhere to sleep for a short time. It also may mean that they can access healthcare as well, see a doctor if necessary. So that app sounds a really good idea. Even getting someone a bed for the night, even something that short term can be really helpful.

In the UK and around the world.....

So if you're in the UK, and if you want to volunteer and give your time to help homeless people, then Crisis UK is the best known national organisation for this. The Ashley Foundation is great, but it tends to operate just in those northern towns, Blackpool, Blackburn, and Sunderland - that's where they seem to operate. Crisis UK have services in the main cities like London, Edinburgh, Coventry, Swansea, Oxford etc.

I realise that most people listening to this podcast are not based in the UK, but it could be that there is a problem with homelessness in your country. And there are plenty of international organisations that you could volunteer with that help homeless people across the world.

And of course volunteering and donations are always welcome through international organisations which help people in countries like Ukraine and Syria.


OK, so that's 'Charity at Christmas'. Let me wish you a very happy Christmas and let's look forward to 2023 and hope it's a great year. All the best!

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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