Volunteering with Crisis at Christmas (7)

Earlier, I have blogged about my three shifts as a volunteer with the charity for the homeless Crisis at Christmas (CAC).

The 45th CAC is now over. Collection of accurate statistics and data is still taking place, but the charity has shared with volunteers  some highlights of the event to demonstrate what we contributed to this Christmas.

From 22-30 December, CAC welcomed thousands of guests in 10 centres across London (CAC was also delivered in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Coventry). This was made possible thanks to the more than 10,000 strong army of volunteers that attended shifts in London. 38,000 meals were served across the week and more than 5,600 meals across centres on Christmas Day.

From 23-28 December, 620 guests accessed doctors, nurses and pharmacists via the healthcare clinics. On 28 December alone, the healthcare service saw 127 guests, their busiest day. From 23-28 December, 325 guests accessed the podiatry service.

Teams of advisors were helping with everything from housing to immigration issues. 4 dental units and dozens of dentists were working flat out every day. Foot care and eye care teams were sorting guests’ feet and issuing free prescription glasses.

Hundreds of guests had their hair cut and hundreds more enjoyed a massage. Clothes were being repaired at a furious rate. There were thousands of sessions in the 10 IT cafes (a total of 300+ pieces of kit) provided by the IT supporter AIMAR. 71 hours of international phone calls were made.

Many guests just relaxed in the cafes and libraries or played chess and board games and many more just sat and chatted into the early hours. There was some wonderful art created, creative writing and poetry written and performed, films watched in the 10 cinemas, bands and performers enjoyed, and karaoke endured. The musical highlights the guests enjoyed included a clarinetist playing beautifully during breakfast, a steel pan band and the London Bulgarian choir. Oh and Chris Martin from Coldplay made an unannounced appearance and sang some songs with guests.

Backstage, the Catering, Operations, Resourcing and Transport teams were adapting to life in the new CAC Warehouse and coped extremely well. A fleet of 100 vehicles ferried warehouse supplies and guests across London to and from the centres. The catering team were operating 24 hours a day to make sure every centre had its meals and the Operations Centre made sure that each centre had the supplies and support it needed to run efficiently.

A magnificent effort all round. It was good to be a tiny part of this amazing operation.


  • Janet

    You’re right, a magnificent effort, but from the other side of the coin, what a huge need.

  • Roger Darlington

    Yes – and much worse over the last four or five years.

  • Alex Pumfrey

    Roger, what a vivid and eye opening insight into Crisis at Christmas – thank you so much for doing it and sharing the experience. Tom and I have considered doing it but never quite made it happen. Your account makes me determined that we do! I hope all is well. Alex


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>