Crisis at Christmas 2021 Campaign

Crisis at Christmas 2021 Campaign

Running Crisis at Christmas 2021 in a COVID environment remains a challenge, although it has certainly been easier than 2020.

148 rooms were booked through Crisis and the various homeless agencies making 100% occupancy of the charitable hotel booked for this year’s campaign

It’s been estimated that 25 people an hour were homeless over the period.

As guests were welcomed in on Wednesday 22nd, myself and 2 other volunteers operated the canteen, offering snacks and drinks (hot & cold). Mixed feelings of happiness and sadness….. happy to see people smiling as they came in from the cold and were able to come and take whatever food they wanted. but sad too because at least some felt they needed to stuff every pocket…. just in case they ran out…. and some were still thinking they had to eat cold leftovers from the previous day, even at the risk of food poisoning. As time progressed they realised this wasn’t necessary, and yes sir, they could have some more.

Add to that they all were thanking us profusely for helping them and it’s hard not to get emotional.

More beaming smiles as the guests were shown to their individual rooms and realised they had their own bed for 2 weeks for the first time in they can’t remember how long.

Room Service means Room Service and COVID provided an opportunity to interact with our fellow human beings in a way that helped substantially restore their humanity and dignity. Food and clothing delivered and medical appointment reminders all part of the service.

Privacy is not something that homeless people have very much if any of at all.

Having their name remembered and used in conversations brought visible sparkle to their eyes.

There’s been a significant increase in the donations of brand new clothing straight from the manufacturer from the classic socks, underwear and pyjamas to track suits, shirts and jeans for all sizes. Being able to offer choice is a human right we take for granted.

The various services have also been well utilised with a range of medical services, advice and hairdressing being available with some needing hospitalisation, though thankfully not covid.

Crisis staff have organised a fantastic effort, well documented and COVID safe.

Ask any volunteer and they will tell you, this is not a one way help event. Our homeless guests are giving back to us too!

Day 4
Started the morning of Day 4 serving breakfast, and then later running canteen.

In the course of various duties, I spent time talking to other volunteers and discovered:
– some of the volunteers have experienced homelessness
– some have a variety of disabilities inc. very limited mobility
– some are recovering from severe health problems inc. brain tumours
– some are recovering substance addicts

All of them came back to Crisis to help and give back – see my post on The Dalai Lama in Crisis.

Escorted a recovering addict trying to get back on the methodone program to an assessment centre, then found myself attending my very first Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Brave people facing down their demons and trying to rise above their circumstances.

Day 5
Serving breakfast and lunch again.

Noticed after 9 days that there were more smiles amongst the guests and that some were talking about being enrolled in various programs to help them take further steps out of homelessness.

Sad though to hear how some were kicked out of flats they were renting because they lost their job. One person was a domestic help for a super rich couple who demanded she be available 24/7 and kicked her out after she complained. No money, no passport, no language, no home.

ONE SIMPLE and QUICK WAY TO HELP: Smile and Say HELLO to a homeless person, and perhaps ask them their name. In talking to the homeless guests, using their name in conversation and offering them choice in some of their requests, it’s very easy and “cost effective” to put a smile on their face and a sparkle in the eyes.

Day 6
In conjunction with St. Mungo’s and Shelter, Crisis co-operated a hotel in central London for an extended period of 3 weeks to the end of January.

As I wandered around performing various volunteer duties, I spoke with several of the guests, which is when I came across Marvin. He is a young man under 35, very articulate but suffering from severely degraded mental health. Whilst many of the guests there were sparking up and look forward with a cautious degree of hope and optimism, Marvin was struggling to engage with his case worker to access the necessary mental health treatment he needed. Others however told stories about how they acquired new skills and joked and laughed. What a contrast of states and outcomes


We were close to capacity throughout Week 2 at Docklands and achieved the best outcomes for our guests that we have ever seen in our years volunteering for Crisis.

Towards the end of the week a number of guests, with the support of our Advice team, were leaving to move directly into their own new homes, the relief and excitement for these guests was positively palpable, and with the extension of the Crisis Hyde Park hotel all guests were offered further accommodation. The Hyde Park extension will mean that specialist support workers will be able to continue to work with our guests to help find sustainable solutions. We couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you, so simply – thank you.

A huge thank you from our guests as well, many of whom made a point to speak to us over the last couple of days to thank to all the volunteers.

As many of you know our hotel closed a couple of days later than originally planned as we waited for PCR test results for guests, special thanks to everyone who volunteered for an extra shift or two. We think those extra 48 hours made a real difference to the outcomes this year.

If the help offered sometimes seems like a drop in the ocean, remember…. what is an ocean but a multitude of drops!

To view the Crisis 2018 master plan to try and end homelessness, please click here 

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