When is Crisis at Christmas open in London?
Our Day Centre times vary, but will generally open from the morning of 23 December and close by 9.00 pm on 29 December. The opening hours are 9.00 am until 9.00 pm.
Our Residential Centres are open 24 hours, and provide sleeping facilities for guests from either 22 or 23 December until the morning of 30 December.
What are the different centres?
Our five 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 centre.
There are six residential centres for guests who are assessed to be most in need of essential services:
- Outreach Residential Centre where guests are referred by their outreach workers
- Link Residential Centre for guests not yet linked into year round services
- Winters Residential Centre for guests referred by Winter Night Shelters, which offer temporary overnight accommodation in churches
- The Gate Residential Centre for those with alcohol or drug dependencies
- Women’s Residential Centre for vulnerable women
- Croydon Residential Centre
These centres are open 24 hours and provide meals and sleeping facilities as well as the full range of services and activities.
Where are the centres located?
Our centres in London are in Zones 1-5. 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
For security and confidentiality reasons, the locations of our residential centres are confidential and full addresses can only be provided once volunteers have been confirmed into that centre. Where possible, we give an idea of centre location via ‘whereabouts’ maps on the online application. These give a rough idea of location without detailing the exact address.
Full addresses and maps will be available on the online application when it opens.
What roles can I apply for?
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 entrainment 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, washing feet in podiatry, offering manicures to guests or helping calm the queue for the ever busy Advice Service. All General Volunteer’s jobs 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 area we would love to hear from you once the application process opens.
As an Activities and Entertainment 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, DJs and cabaret performers as well as anyone who can delivery fun and engaging activity such as bingo and karaoke sessions or can warm everyone up with their best Noddy Holder impressions!
As a Logistic Volunteer you will be involved in logistic delivery of the project from 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 as a whole 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.
Is there an age limit for volunteers?
General, Services, Activities and Logistics Volunteers must be aged 18 or older. There is no upper age limit.
Drivers must be aged between 25 and 65 for insurance purposes.
How much time do I need to commit?
Generally, we ask volunteers to do a minimum of two shifts across the week on two different days. However this varies for different roles.
As a General volunteer, If this is your first time volunteering with Crisis at Christmas, you will be able to sign up for a maximum of four shifts.
Note for Service and Activities volunteers: although we encourage all volunteers to sign up for a minimum of two shifts, it may be possible to volunteer in some services for just one shift or two shifts on the same day, depending on shift times and volunteer numbers.
Entertainment volunteers can sign up for one shift and do not have to volunteer for a whole shift. During the application process, you are asked to let us know the hours you would like to perform within.
For Logistics Volunteers, requirements differ depending on type. For Driving Volunteers and volunteers based at The pop-up warehouse, three shifts are required. Operations Volunteers are required to do four shifts.
Is there a deadline for applications?
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.
Do some shifts need more help than others?
We always struggle to find enough people to cover the period 27 to 30 December for all volunteer roles. Night shifts in the Residential Centres are also particularly difficult to fill. We often need more volunteers for the Day Centre morning shift on 23 December. 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 utilize those most effectively and with greater benefit to the Crisis at Christmas and people we are trying to help.
Will you assign me a centre or can I choose?
We have to recruit the appropriate number of volunteers to each centre in order to open. If you can be flexible on location, please help us by selecting the 'Where I am needed' box in Step 4 of the application as this will allow us to assign you to a centre that is most in need of volunteers. If you select 'Where I am needed', you will be notified by email when you have been assigned to a centre.
Some Services use the pop-up warehouse as a base or they operate out of just one centre, rather than in all centres. You will find details of location under each specific service.
Entertainments Volunteers will have the flexibility to go “on tour” and travel around our London centres.
All Logistics Volunteers will be located at the pop-up warehouse.
Can I volunteer with my partner/friend/relative?
For General, Logistics and Services 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. By submitting their reference code into step 2 of the application process, you will be allocated the same role, shifts and centre.
Please note that Logistics Volunteers may be assigned to a number of different tasks once they arrive at the pop-up Warehouse. 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.
Does Crisis provide insurance for volunteers?
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'.
Do I need any training before Crisis at Christmas?
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 in November and December at the Crisis offices. You will be able to select your preferred date for training as part of your application. Alternatively you can complete this qualification online via trusted third parties.
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 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 Pop-up warehouse Volunteers will be invitied to an optional warehouse Induction and during the application process you will be asked to select your preferred date for this.
We have a number of specialist volunteer roles which are generally assigned to more experienced volunteers and usually available through the nomination process only. Those include Shift Office Coordinator, Quarter Master, Service Liaison volunteer, Guest Welfare Support Volunteer, Kitchen Coordinator, as well as Senior and Key Volunteers roles. We provide specialist all year round training sessions to those volunteers to ensure they are appropriately prepared to deliver their responsibilities during Christmas.
Do you provide transport for volunteers?
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.
Do you provide Crisis at Christmas accommodation for volunteers?
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.
Will there be parking at the centres?
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.
Will I have to pay the Congestion Charge?
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.
Can I change or cancel my shifts?
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.
What do I do if I am feeling poorly or ill?
If you’re ill, please don't come in to your shift. This is 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 Community pages and update your shift details or ring the Crisis at Christmas call centre to let your Shift Leader know.
Do you provide food for volunteers?
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 light 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!
Are the centres accessible for people with additional support needs?
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 about any specific support needs you have so we can ensure that we have a suitable resources in place to support your volunteering.