That's it. Over for another year.
It's been 46 years since Crisis at Christmas opened its doors to welcome Londons rough sleepers in from the cold. Since then it has expanded to ten centres in London as well as centres in Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Crisis at Christmas opens at a crucial time when most people are preparing to spend time with their family. From December 23rd - 29th 2016 four thousand homeless people were able to access services that many of us are fortunate enough to take for granted. Dentists, hairdressers, podiatrists, opticians as well as IT services and legal advice. They also received hot meals, entertainment, companionship* and warmth. All made possible by thousands of volunteers.
The Crisis at Christmas Sewing Service is a relatively small but vital cog in a large efficient wheel. This year the team mended a record 628 items. Putting zips in bags and coats and taking in and up jeans and trousers as well as other sewing tasks. We met many clients from ALL warps of life from 19 years to 90 years old. Ninety. Sobering.
But what a tragedy that Crisis should even have to exist. Every day this charity campaigns tirelessly to help end homelessness. To the cynical it may seem fruitless, but does that mean we shouldn't try? Of course not.
Volunteering is a personal choice (read about my initial reasons for volunteering here) and not for everyone. There are ways you can help without necessarily giving up your precious time.
Donate on my fundraising page. It'll be open until 25th January. Or donate to Crisis any time. Every little helps.
Read and share information about the work Crisis does all year round
Bang on about it . Sign the campaigns to end homelessness. Send a (easy peasy) letter to your MP.
Are you are thinking of volunteering next year or throughout the year? I urge you to do so with a full heart and an open mind. Leave any preconceptions you have about what homelessness looks like (it ain't what you think, TRUST me) at the door. But do it. There's nothing like giving to someone else to help us appreciate what we have. Honestly.
Thank you for reading this.
* on companionship: never, ever underestimate the power of actual human contact. A smile, a touch or a shared joke. Loneliness is on the increase across all demographics. The difference to a homeless person can be immeasurable.