Rounding up Crisis Christmas 2014

Recently I mentioned that I was behind with my blog posts… Well, I’m still playing catch up! Christmas already seems like months ago, but I wanted to share Crisis’ official Christmas 2014 video, which gives a flavour of the impact the project has on the homeless guests who visit centres in London, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

After volunteering in the kitchen this year, one guest’s description of the food he’d eaten at Crisis being ‘excellent’ made me smile (although this video wasn’t filmed at my centre, so I can’t really take any credit!).

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January inspiration: small acts of caring

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Four years ago when I signed up for my first Crisis Christmas, one of the things I was most apprehensive about was speaking to the homeless guests I was going to come into contact with. What do you talk about to somebody who is homeless? I wondered. Not long into my first shift, my apprehension faded. What you talk about to people who are homeless are exactly the same topics you talk to anyone about: sport, the weather, work, hobbies, news, family. My biggest lesson that first year was that while Crisis’ guests need food, clothes and a shower, for so many of them the opportunity to just chat to somebody is equally important to them.

This makes complete sense, given how society marginalises those experiencing homelessness. A week at a Crisis centre over Christmas may be the only time in the year the guests are treated with respect, made to feel like members of a community, and receive genuine smiles rather than vacant stares. Crisis Christmas is good at providing the support and services guests may need to help them make changes and move forward in their lives. But I know the seemingly insignificant ‘acts of caring’ given by the volunteers also have the potential to make a real difference to how the guests feel about themselves and society at large.

The horn of plenty: a poem

This fantastic poem was written by a guest at Crisis Christmas’ Hammersmith centre.

The Horn of Plenty

Whatever you want they are only happy to get

Wait on hand and foot on the needy queue of strangers

The Crisis Angels are running from

Gates of Heaven to all the corners of the earth to help.

 

The earth is man’s basic body

The needs are the soul’s despair

But every gloomy thing of deficiency is abundantly overreached by

The Angels’ speedy delivery –

Love, help

 

And adding to all that

They are never, never short of a smile –

For doing happiness to others

They are so happy in return.

A thank you from Crisis Christmas

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Dear Zahra

Well that’s that.

Sadly our doors have closed on Crisis Christmas 2014 and we wanted to share some initial facts and figures with you to sum up the magnitude of just what has been achieved this Christmas:

• Around 3,620 guests came to our 10 centres across London
• More than 10,000 people donated their time amounting to approximately 30,000 volunteering shifts
• Over 30,000 meals served across the week
• There were 656 healthcare consultations

Teams of advisors helped with everything from housing to immigration issues. Four dental units and dozens of dentists worked flat out every day. Foot care and eye care teams sorted out guests’ feet and issued free prescription glasses. There was art being created, creative writing being done, films being watched in our 10 cinemas, bands and performers being enjoyed and karaoke being endured.

Football enthusiasts were being coached by Premier League professionals and almost every centre participated in the annual 5-a-side football tournament at the City of London Academy with West London Day Centre narrowly beating Outreach Rough Sleepers Centre in the final.

There were art gallery and theatre visits, hundreds of guests had their hair cut and hundreds more enjoyed a massage. Hundreds of Skype sessions took place with many guests managing to get back in touch with their families. Others relaxed in our cafes and libraries, played chess and board games and many more just sat and chatted.

Across London, a fleet of over 100 vehicles ferried warehouse supplies and guests to and from the centres.

And we also had 104 Crisis Skylight members working as ambassadors helping out with all of the tasks mentioned and, more importantly, promoting the great work that Crisis does year round at our Skylight centres.

However, none of that would have been possible without YOU supporting us wholeheartedly day and night throughout duration of the event. You turned up and made a difference, delivered on a variety of tasks and activities and made our guests feel special.

I will leave it up to one of our guests to sum up…

Just a few words
To say thank you.

You have given me a house
For just a few days
For that my friends
I hold my hands up in praise

Once again, thank you. Have a great New Year and we hope to see you again at Crisis at Christmas 2015!

All the best,

The Crisis at Christmas team

December inspiration: bright stars

Did you know Crisis Christmas is the biggest annual volunteering project in the UK? As it sadly draws to a close for another year, I wanted to share this as a nod to the thousands of people who have been helping out in London, Edinburgh and Newcastle over the past week. Even after my fourth year, the fact that so many people are willing to give up their holidays to help those who are homeless amazes me. I hope the Crisis Christmas experience motivates more people to volunteer throughout the year too.

bright stars