Christine is a housing officer who lives with her wife, her dog and her cats in County Durham. She
first volunteered for Crisis at Christmas in Newcastle in 2011. “My mum had died really suddenly in
the spring. She always made a big effort on Christmas. I saw something about volunteering for
them at Christmas, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to do that’. It gave me a different focus, something to
think about, something positive to do.”
Christine started out by helping in the kitchen. “I think I did about eleven hours on Christmas Day
and I went home, and I was coming back the next day and I just thought ‘I have no idea what’s just
happened.’ I just blinked and I’d served 300 bacon and egg sandwiches.”
“I’m not a trained chef. I love to cook for other people. I love serving food to people. The joy in the room as people enjoy their dinners, there’s just nothing better for me.”
“Now I run the kitchen at Crisis at Christmas in Newcastle. Before COVID, we used to open the
doors and whoever came in would have their breakfast or their dinner. They got their food, and
there was entertainment on and all sorts of other services. In the last couple of years, we’ve started to do deliveries too.”
“In the beginning, we didn’t know what would be donated, and we had to make things out of what we had. You’d be rifling through and find something random like five quails. I don’t even know how to cook quail! I think we made a Christmas crumble once because we had a load of Christmas fruit. Once we portioned up four kilos of cheese! These days, we plan the menu. We think about that early on. There are crowd pleasers that people want, like mince and dumplings, so there’s an option if they don’t want another turkey dinner.”
“Christmas is meant to be around joy, isn’t it? Not sitting around on your sofa at home being bored. I get a lot of joy from seeing that joy. I love how excited people are about the food, because I’m always excited about food. I just cannot think of anything better to do with my time at Christmas. To be able to be there, to do something, to make a memory, to feel like you’re cared for, cared about, it’s really important.”
Find out more about Christmas volunteering and how to get involved.
By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.