Focus: Campaign of the week - The young homeless at Christmas

Georgina Lock,

Centrepoint has launched its annual Countdown to Christmas campaign this year with the strapline 'Your Christmas present is their Christmas future'.

The target for the integrated campaign is £219,400, the total the charity has calculated it will cost to help more than 600 homeless young people over the festive season.

The main image features a young girl in a sleeping bag overlaid with illustrations of a bed and a bedroom scene, representing the change that Centrepoint can bring to people's lives.

Working with direct marketing agency TW Cat, Centrepoint's media channels include direct mail, email appeals, London Underground posters urging SMS, online or telephone response, and full-page, text-heavy press advertisements in a number of national newspapers.

The campaign text tells the story of a homeless girl who, after being subjected to years of violence and abuse in the 'care' of an aunt and uncle, was thrown out of their home at the age of 16.

With nowhere else to go, she ended up staying in run-down bed and breakfast accommodation, with no support, no cooking or washing facilities and aggressive or drunken fellow residents.

The teenager is now housed at a Centrepoint hostel for 16 and 17-year-olds and will have a Christmas with people who care about her.

The direct mail pack includes a quote from her that says: "I'm really thankful to be here. The staff support you in any way you need them."

Examples of what the donor's money can buy are cited in the fundraising text. This ranges from £43, which could provide safe accommodation, Christmas dinner and emotional support, to £15,200, which would cover the entire cost of running a short-stay service for homeless people over the Christmas period.

This year's warm donor appeals are highly personalised, with requests based on the donor's giving history. The packs include a Christmas decoration for donors to return with their own personal messages, which will be hung on a tree at a Centrepoint hostel. High-value donors will receive a personalised report outlining some of the charity's expenditure and funding requirements.

For the second year running, clothing retailer Gap is sponsoring the appeal and has donated £50,000 to help Centrepoint's work.

To reach the appeal target the charity needs to raise more than £4,000 a day to fund the Christmas dinners, accommodation and long-term support.

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