A life-sized gingerbread house has appeared in Gateshead’s Tesco Extra, launching a local homelessness charity’s ‘Giving a Home’ Christmas appeal to raise vital funds following a rise in rough sleepers during this year’s lockdowns.

Oasis Community Housing supports thousands of homeless men, woman and vulnerable families every year. The Gateshead-based charity hopes the festive house, which was built with the assistance of Flooring Superstore in Newcastle, will help raise awareness of homelessness while also encouraging people to celebrate their own home – in a year that has involved spending more time indoors than ever before.

“2020 has been tough for all of us, but can you imagine what it would be like not to have somewhere safe and warm to stay when everywhere else is closed?” explains Oasis Community Housing’s Chief Executive, David Smith. “Our teams do early morning outreach on the streets and they are seeing a real spike in rough sleeping, and meeting many people who are newly homeless.

“We couldn’t do what we do without the generous support of businesses and individuals, so please do get involved by spreading the word with a selfie at the gingerbread house or by making a small donation – it all goes towards us giving a home to someone who desperately needs it this Christmas and New Year.”

The gingerbread house represents Oasis’ ‘Giving a Home’ Christmas appeal, which the charity hopes will enable their continued work delivering food, warmth and medicines, along with counselling and a safe, stable environment to people facing homelessness throughout Christmas and 2021.

Sat just outside Tesco, off Trinity Square, the gingerbread house is decorated with candy canes and snow pom poms and sits next to a Christmas tree on snowy grass. Flooring Superstore, a UK flooring retailer with its head office in the North East, gifted the artificial grass for the gingerbread house.

Greig Anderson, Flooring Superstore’s Regional Manager, said: “As a business with its head office in the North East, as well as several stores, we are always pleased to be able to support organisations and charities who are making a difference to so many people in our region. Oasis Community Housing are a perfect example. We wish them every success with their gingerbread house initiative.”

Commenting on their involvement, Tesco Store Manager Adam Crooks said: “Oasis Community Housing is a great local charity and we are very pleased to support them in their efforts as part of the Giving a Home Christmas appeal.”

The gingerbread house will be at Tesco until the end of January 2021. A virtual version of the confectionary home can also be seen online, with public donations able to ‘buy’ bricks and roof tiles to help ‘build’ a home as well as setting off virtual fireworks. To find out more, please visit www.givingahome.org.uk