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11,000 volunteers needed to help homeless people this Christmas

10.10.2017 1246 XX

Crisis calls on volunteers across the country to help provide warmth, comfort and vital services to thousands of homeless people this December

National homelessness charity Crisis is calling for volunteers across the country to help people experiencing homelessness this December by taking part in its annual Crisis at Christmas events, which are taking place in Crisis’ 50th anniversary year.

Every year, Crisis at Christmas provides temporary centres across the country where homeless people are offered hot meals, dental and medical care, mental health support, advice, and companionship.

The charity has now opened the online volunteer application process and is calling on anyone from night shift workers to nurses, and dog handlers to dentists to help run the centres over the holidays 

This year, Crisis at Christmas runs from 22 – 29 December and more than 11,000 volunteers will be needed. As well as warmth, companionship and hot meals, guests in London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh will also be offered specialist advice on housing, work and benefits, and an introduction to Crisis’ year-round services which support people to leave homelessness behind for good. Centres in London also offer guests a place to sleep.

The centres are run by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life, some who have volunteered throughout their lives, and some joining for the first time.

Long-term volunteer Kerry Smith said: “I started volunteering at Crisis five years ago, after signing up as a general volunteer. Giving a little bit of my time to help others felt like the right thing to do.

“From the second I walked in I knew I had made the right decision. Seeing all the services available to those who needed it most and the enormous part the volunteers play in making it all happen blew me away!” Registration is now open at crisis.org.uk/volunteer, with a huge variety of roles on offer, including:

· General volunteers, who chat to guests, serve food, sort bedding and make sure the centres are happy, welcoming places to be.

· Night shift volunteers, who provide the essential support that keeps Crisis' centres running 24 hours a day throughout the Christmas period. 

· Service volunteers, including medical professionals, hairdressers and caterers, who give guests access to services they usually miss out on. 

· Logistics volunteers, who drive vehicles, co-ordinate deliveries and provide translation services – all essential to making Crisis at Christmas happen.

· Entertainment volunteers, such as musicians, artists and sports coaches, who use their talent to bring some Christmas cheer to guests’ lives.

· Volunteer advisors, who help guests in the longer-term by providing advice on issues such as housing, welfare rights, women’s issues and family law. 

One in four homeless people will face spending Christmas alone this year. With the homelessness crisis worsening, Crisis says the centres are needed now more than ever.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “Without our volunteers, Crisis at Christmas simply wouldn’t exist to help provide a warm, safe place to those with nowhere to call home.

“It’s because of their generosity that we can bring thousands of people friendship, support, and life-changing services each and every Christmas.

“And though we work all year round to help people experiencing homelessness – we know that the Christmas season should be a special time for everyone and that no one should have to spend it alone.

“So as our charity turns 50, we will work harder than ever to make homelessness a thing of the past. And until then our volunteers will remain at the heart of what we do.”

ENDS

For more high res photography or to arrange an interview please call 020 7426 8588 or email anna.kharbanda@crisis.org.uk 

Notes to Editors:

Homelessness statistics

Official government statistics showed that 4,134 people slept rough in England on any one night during 2016 – this is over double the amount counted in 2010 and up 16% from 2015. 

In London alone 8,108 people slept rough during 2016/17, more than double the figure of 3,673 in 2009/10. 

According to recent Crisis research, across Britain in 2017:

· 9,100 people were sleeping rough

· 68,300 households were sofa surfing

· 19,300 households were living in unsuitable temporary accommodation

· 37,200 households were living in hostels

· 26,000 households were living in other circumstances, including:

o 8,900 households sleeping in tents, cars or on public transport

o 12,100 households living in squats

o 5,000 households in women’s refuges or winter night shelters 

Crisis at Christmas

Crisis at Christmas is a unique volunteer effort that provides immediate help for homeless people at a critical time of year. It is only made possible through the collective effort and generosity of thousands of volunteers, individuals, community organisations and companies who donate money, time, skills, goods and services.

This year guests will be welcomed at over 13 centres across Britain and offered food, clothing, health services and a chance to relax. But our work does not end there. We offer our guests individual advice and support and encourage them to go to our year-round service centres in the New Year.

In 2016, we welcomed 4,706 guests across London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Coventry and Newcastle, supported by more than 10,859 volunteers. 

About Crisis

Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. We help people directly out of homelessness, and campaign for the social changes needed to solve it altogether. We know that together we can end homelessness.