The Stories behind BHT’s Christmas Appeal Videos

Yesterday (2nd December) BHT launched its Christmas Appeal video. In recent years BHT has tried to make videos at Christmas that explain a bit about our work and to encourage viewers to make a donation towards the work of our day centre, First Base.

First Base runs at a loss and the income we generate at Christmas time not only helps us to provide services at this time of year but throughout the year. People are, understandably, more generous in the run up to Christmas.

Two years ago the message of the video contrasted the reaction of the public’s love of animals and concern for people living on the streets. It suggested that there would be an outcry if there were 130 dogs abandoned on the streets of Brighton and Hove, but there wasn’t a similar outcry about the 130 people sleeping on the streets.

That video cost nothing to make, filmed as it was on my iPad and featured my beautiful little Yorkie, Daisy. It was quite amateurish – I can say so because it was all my own work! Please don’t try to donate on the numbers given as they no longer work. Details of how you can support us can be found at the end of this post.

Last year we shifted the focus away from rough sleeping, asking the question “Who would you turn to?” telling the story of a family losing their home in the run up to Christmas. The producers used the opening of an Advent Calendar to illustrate the rapid decline in the fortunes of this household. There was a lot of artistic licence and, fortunately, there are enough safeguards to ensure that legal evictions cannot happen as rapidly as portrayed. (If you are facing eviction please contact our advice centres in Brighton, Eastbourne or Hastings).

The film itself was very professionally produced and directed and, although it was widely praised, it did provoke a few negative comments including one suggesting that if BHT could afford to pay for such a slick film, we didn’t really need the money. The reality, of course, was that the film makers and all the actors donated their time and expertise for nothing.

This year the message is simple and very hard hitting. It focuses, once again, on rough sleeping. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t yet seen it.

Again it did not cost us nothing thanks to the generosity of Barbara Myers and Paul Loman from Homegrown Films who donated their time and expertise, not to mention the bubbly, crackers, and food. The original idea came from my colleague, Jo Berry. The ‘actors’ were my colleagues, Rob Robinson, Sharon Munnings, Daniel O’Connell and Sam Oliver, and I couldn’t resist assuming the role of director. The first part – the Christmas dinner scene originally took 23 seconds. After several rehearsals and run throughs (34 actually) we got it down to 7 seconds.

The BHT Christmas videos, you could call them adverts, might not be on a par with the M&S or Aldi adverts, but they have the same aim – to get you to part with some money. But unlike the other adverts, we are asking you to give to a good cause, to provide some comfort, warmth and companionship to those people living on the streets of Brighton and Hove this Christmas.

To support the BHT Christmas Appeal:

  • Donate through our website
  • Text BHTF50 £(amount) to 70070
  • Send a cheque payable to ‘Brighton Housing Trust’ to 144 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4PH.

Thank you.

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