Volunteers needed to give Christmas lifeline to homeless people in Edinburgh

From hairdressers to caterers, performers to podiatrists, dedicated volunteers are needed to help bring Crisis’ temporary centre in Edinburgh for homeless people to life this Christmas.

A temporary Crisis at Christmas centre will be open in Edinburgh on Christmas Day and Boxing Day with centres also set to open across London, Coventry, Birmingham and Newcastle. As well as warmth, companionship and hot meals, guests can access much needed wellbeing services and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits.

Crisis Skylight centre Edinburgh is run by hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life. This year the centre is particularly urging chefs, entertainers and workshop leaders to offer up their skills. Registration is now open at crisis.org.uk/volunteer, with a huge variety of roles on offer, including:

  • General volunteers who chat to guests, serve food and make sure the centres are happy, welcoming places to be
  • Service volunteers, including hairdressers and caterers, who give guests access to services they usually miss out on
  • Logistics volunteers, who drive vehicles and co-ordinate deliveries - all essential to making Crisis at Christmas happen
  • Entertainment volunteers, such as musicians and artists, who use their talent to bring some Christmas cheer to guests’ lives.
  • With more than 34,000 people making homelessness applications to Scottish local authorities in 2015-16 and thousands waiting in excess of ten months for permanent housing, more and more people are turning to Crisis at Christmas to use the basic amenities their temporary accommodation simply can’t provide.

    Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Christmas can be an extremely isolating time for those without a home to call their own. Many of us can take for granted the companionship and shelter we enjoy at Christmas, yet one in four homeless people spends the festive period alone. This year, the number of rough sleepers in England has continued to rise at an alarming rate, and across the UK tens of thousands of people do not have a proper place to call home. Unfortunately, Crisis at Christmas is as important as ever this year.

    “It is only through the generosity of thousands of volunteers that help make Crisis at Christmas happen for homeless people. Volunteers can not only bring some much-needed cheer to our guests but also encourage them to take up the life-changing opportunities on offer all year round at our centres across the country.”

    Long-term Crisis at Christmas volunteer Kerry Smith said: “I started volunteering at Crisis four years ago after signing up as a general volunteer. Giving a little bit of my time to help others felt like the right thing to do.

    “From the second I walked in I knew I had made the right decision. Seeing all the services available to those who needed it most and the enormous part the volunteers play in making it all happen blew me away!”

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