Volunteer at Crisis at Christmas in London

Crisis at Christmas is a unique volunteer effort that provides immediate help for homeless people at a critical time of year. By volunteering with Crisis this Christmas you can make a real difference to people experiencing homelessness. We have lots of volunteering roles to fill. Help cook and serve meals, share your skills as a hairdresser, health professional or entertainer, or have a chat and play games with our guests.

Volunteer at Crisis at Christmas in London

Night owls

Join us on a residential centre night shift and volunteer where you’re most needed

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Healthcare professionals

Professionals in the fields of dentistry, healthcare, eye care, podiatry, and physiotherapy

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Behind the scenes

Help out behind the scenes with logistics and driving

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Creative people

Bring your creative and artistic skills to the centres

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Wellbeing services

From haircuts to massage to looking after guests' dogs

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Help prepare delicious meals for our guests

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Active people

Use your fitness to motivate and energise others

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Knowledge sharers

Use your knowledge and expertise to give advice to guests

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Team leaders

Lead and coordinate a group of people

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IT skills

Help guests get online and make the most of IT

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Skylight members

Volunteer roles for current Skylight members

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Good listeners

Listen, engage, support and do

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Your Christmas questions answered

Do you need any qualifications or experience to volunteer?

You do not need any qualifications or experience to be a general volunteer.

Some service volunteers and activities volunteers are required to have specialist skills, qualifications and appropriate insurance before they can apply and, if so, volunteers must provide proof of these.

Specific requirements are clearly stated under each service in Step 3 of the application process. Activities volunteers offering to run an activity will be asked to provide an outline of their planned activity on the online application form. We ask volunteers to plan flexible activities as attendance varies day to day and the setting is informal. We also ask volunteers to remember that activities should be accessible for all levels and nationalities. For volunteers interested in activities but who don’t feel confident leading a session, we still need your enthusiasm and skills! Sign up as a general volunteer. In your general volunteering shift briefings we encourage you to tell the Green Badge that you are an experienced activities volunteer and wish to support activities again.

Please note that Food Safety training is available through Crisis for those who want to volunteer in the kitchens and MiDAS training for some of those who want to drive our minibuses.

How do I select my volunteering shifts?

You can choose which shifts you would like during the application process. Please only choose shifts you can definitely attend. If a shift is full it will not be possible to select this on the application form.

When we receive your application online we will, in most cases, assign you immediately to the role and shifts that you have selected. We will confirm this by email within 10 working days. In some cases we may not be able to assign your role and shifts immediately, especially for service and activities volunteers, or we may need to reallocate you to an alternative shift, but we will keep you informed by email.

I was a guest at Crisis at Christmas; can I apply as a volunteer?

We welcome former guests as volunteers. Please note you may not be a guest and a volunteer in the same year. If you would like to discuss any issues surrounding this please contact us.

Can I claim back my travel expenses?

Unfortunately, the large number of volunteers involved in Crisis at Christmas means that we do not have the resources to reimburse travel costs.

Day centres

Our four day centres are for guests who have accommodation of some kind, such as hostels, B&Bs, those who are sofa surfing or obtain their accommodation via different sources. These centres open from 9 am to 9 pm, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for all guests as well as learning opportunities, activities, entertainment and essential services such as advice and healthcare. The day centres cater for up to 250 guests each and are open to all.

*If a guest is assessed to be in need of more specialist services, they may be referred to the appropriate residential rough sleepers centre.

Rough sleepers centres

There are five residential rough sleepers centres for guests who are assessed to be most in need of essential services. These centres are open 24 hours and provide meals and sleeping facilities.

  • Outreach Rough Sleepers Centre where guests are referred by their outreach workers
  • Link Rough Sleepers Centre for guests not yet linked into year round services
  • Winters Rough Sleepers Centre for guests referred by Winter Night Shelters, which offer temporary overnight accommodation in churches
  • The Gate Rough Sleepers Centre for those with alcohol or drug dependencies
  • Women’s Rough Sleepers Centre for vulnerable women


You can sign up as a General Volunteer or join one of our Services, Activities and Entertainment or Logistics teams.

The tasks you will be involved will vary depending on your role but please see the brief overview of responsibilities below:

As a General Volunteer you will be using your adaptability and enthusiasm to support the Shift Team running the centre by helping out in a wide range of tasks. These may include giving out information about services, activities and entertainment at the centres, serving food and refreshments, manning restricted and unrestricted areas, cleaning duty, greeting guests and making them feel welcome, fire marshalling, supporting delivery of services e.g. you may be asked to support in IT, washing hair for the hairdressers, offering manicures to guests or helping calm the queue for the ever busy Advice Service. All General Volunteer tasks are varied, rewarding and a lot of fun.

As a Service Volunteer you may be supporting delivery of huge range of services including Catering, Advice and Befriending, Healthcare and Dentistry, Massage and Podiatry. If you have a specialist qualification which would enable you to support one of these areas we would love to hear from you once the application process opens.

As an Activities and Entertainments Volunteer you will deliver sessions such as arts and crafts, health and fitness (including dance, yoga and sport and IT) or provide varied forms of entertainment to our guests. We welcome musicians, comedians, cabaret performers as well as anyone who can delivery fun and engaging activity such as bingo and karaoke sessions.

As a Logistics Volunteer you will be involved in delivery of the logistics for the project from based in our operations centre. You may be a driver, a technical support volunteer or may be helping to pack and load the goods which are needed to keep the centres and the project running smoothly.

If you have relevant skills and experience in one of our specialist areas we really need your help, so please sign up in the appropriate section once the application is open. 


Generally, we ask volunteers to do a minimum of two shifts across the week on two different days*.

However for some service roles a minimum of one shift is in place. 

In the Operations team there is a four shift minimum.

Night shifts in the residential Rough Sleepers Centres are particularly difficult to fill.

We often need more volunteers on 23 December for the Day Centres' morning shift. This is a vital shift in the Crisis at Christmas week, as volunteers help with the last-minute preparations before opening; making sure everything is in place and the centres are welcoming and comfortable for our guests.

We have a variety of volunteering roles available so please think about the skills and experiences you have and you are able to offer to the project and our guests. if you have a specialist skill or qualification, please sign in for a role where you can utilise those most effectively and with greater benefit to the Crisis at Christmas and people we are trying to help.

Crisis volunteers are covered by our public liability insurance, which covers ‘legal liability to third parties as a result of bodily injury, property damage, obstruction, trespass or nuisance'.

However if you are a healthcare professional, massage volunteer, natural healer or yoga teacher you will need to submit your own personal liability insurance certificate. Details of requirements for each role can be found on the online application system.

Due to limited resources, you will need to make your own transport arrangements to and from your centre before and after your shifts. If you need to travel between centres during a shift, transport will be provided.

We recommend you use public transport as parking is often limited in and around the Centres. As there is no public transport on 25 December and a limited service on 26 December, we appreciate that driving may be the only option on those days. Please note that public transport commences too late for arrivals for the 26 December morning shift (9.00 am). Parking restrictions are normally lifted on 25 and 26 December, but please check this before you travel. As soon as we have parking information for specific centres we will post this on Crisis Community. 

Car pools and lift-share opportunities will be posted on Crisis Community. When you have been assigned your shifts, please log on to find out if there are any in your area.

In most cases it will not be possible to park at the centres as space is often limited. We will provide as much information about parking options as possible when we have confirmed the location of each centre. You can also check online for parking options in the area around the centres on websites such as Parkopedia.


We urge you to apply only for shifts that you will definitely be able to attend, and to stick with the shifts that are assigned to you.

If you are forced to change or cancel your shifts, please log into Crisis Community to do so. The more advance warning we have, the better chance we have of managing the shifts and providing the best service for our guests. Please note that you will not be able to change your shift to one that is already full.

All the food at our centres is donated and it is our policy that guests always come first. We will endeavour to provide our volunteers with a meal, however this may not always be possible when running Crisis at Christmas operations. We will therefore recommend that you eat a meal before coming to the centres to start your shifts or bring a suitable snack, especially if you have any special dietary requirements (please note those will only be allowed to be consumed in the volunteering area).

We are also not able to guarantee access to a fridge, microwave and other means of cooking so please make sure you take this into consideration when bringing a readymade meal with you. However you will also find plenty of hot beverages to keep you warm and cosy in the volunteer area. 



Our Day Centres open for guests from 12pm - 9pm on 23 December and 9.00 am until 9.00 pm 24- 29 December 

Our residential Rough Sleepers Centres are open 24 hours, and provide sleeping facilities for guests from either 22 or 23 December until the morning of 30 December. 

Our centres in London are in Zones 1-3. They are located in buildings that are donated to Crisis for use over Christmas only, such as schools, colleges and empty buildings.

Our day centres will be located in:

  • North London
  • East London
  • South London
  • West London

Full addresses and maps will be available on the online application when it opens excluding the Women's centre.

General volunteers and Kitchen Assistants must be aged 16 or older by 21 December 2017. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 25 and will not be able to volunteer for night shifts or any shifts at The Gate.

All other Services roles, Activities and Logistics Volunteers must be aged 18 or older.

There is no upper age limit, except for drivers who must be 65 years old or younger.

We strongly suggest you apply early to ensure you receive your preferred shifts. Once we have assigned the appropriate number of volunteers to a shift, it will not be possible to select that shift in the application process.


For General, Activities, Logistics* and Catering* volunteers, this is possible. If you wish to apply with a friend you will need their application reference code which is emailed to them once they complete their application. If a friend wishes to apply with you, please make a note of your application reference number and ask them to submit this when they apply.

By submitting their reference code into step 2 of application process, you will be allocated the same role, shifts and centre. You can adjust these shifts (for example by adding or subtracting shifts) later in the application. 

If you are under 18 years old, your parent/guardian will need to apply first and you will be asked to submit their Application Reference Number when you submit your application.

*Please note that Logistics and Catering Volunteers may be assigned to a number of different tasks once they arrive on shift. Whilst you can apply with a friend and travel to your shift together, we cannot guarantee you will be assigned the same tasks.

For Services Volunteers, this is only possible if both people are volunteering for the same service and fulfil applicable requirements, such as insurance and qualifications. 



All new General volunteers and volunteers who have not volunteered in the past five years are invited to attend one of the New Volunteer Induction Sessions in December. During the application process you will be asked to select your preferred date for this. We strongly recommend that all new general volunteers attend one of these sessions.

All Services and Activities Volunteers are invited to attend a briefing session specific to their area, which will also include an overview of Crisis at Christmas. New and returning volunteers should attend this briefing to learn about changes to your service this year.  Please note that new Services and Activities volunteers do not need to attend the New Volunteer Induction Session for General volunteers, but we strongly recommend that you all attend one of the specific sessions.

Catering Service Volunteers require a Level 2 Food Safety Award to volunteer. If you do not have this qualification, you can attend a one-day food safety course which will be running on some weekend days from October to December at the Crisis offices. You will be able to select your preferred date for training as part of your application. 

All new Drivers will be required to attend one of the Transport briefings. You will be able to select your preferred date before you submit your application online. Drivers will have the option of indicating their interest in attending MiDAS training (Minibus Awareness Scheme) as part of the application process. This requires D1 category on your licence. There are are limited MiDAS spaces available and they will be assigned on a needs basis. While MiDAS training is required for Drivers using minibuses (25% of our fleet), Drivers without MiDAS will still have plenty of work to do!

All new Hub Volunteers will be invitied to an optional Hub Induction and during the application process you will be asked to select your preferred date for this.


Due to the high numbers of volunteers and cost involved we are unable to provide accommodation. We do try to negotiate discounted rates with hotels and hostels close to the centres. Information will be posted on Crisis Community as soon as rates become available. Please note that we are unlikely to negotiate discounts that will beat high street deals currently available.

The Congestion Charge is waived on weekends, public holidays and the days between Christmas and New Year, so it is not payable from 6 pm on 24 December to 7 am on 2 January.

The Congestion Charge is payable on 23 and 24 December. This applies in specific areas within central London from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm and you can find more information here.

If you’re ill, please do not attend to your shift as you may not only pose a risk to other volunteers but most importantly our guests often have compromised immune systems and something that you might shake off easily could cause them major problems.

However, please do go into the Crisis Community pages and update your shift details or ring the Crisis at Christmas call centre on 0300 636 1000 to let us know .

All our centres are wheelchair accessible and we will also endeavour to accommodate volunteers with other additional support needs. Please let us know in advance during your online application about any specific support needs you have so we can ensure that we have a suitable resources in place to support your volunteering.