Making a difference this Christmas: Crisis At Christmas 2014

December 16, 2014

I've received heaps of positive feedback on my  blog post about how to gain permanent residence (PR) in the UK. It seems that lately my posts about more practical life advice (home decor, travel etc.) are well received which I imagine reflects my readers' lives: young adults like myself who have been following Posh, Broke, & Bored while both myself and my blog topics evolve as we mature. Even carefree ingenues must blossom into nubile sophisticates, yes? As we stride away from the me-centric stages of adolescence and toward compassion for the universe beyond our own orbit we find ourselves caring a little more for those around us, and realising how blessed we are. I mean, you're probably reading this on a smartphone, computer, or tablet which means you're probably reasonably well off. I hope you'll spare some of your time and allow me to speak a little about a cause that has become quite dear to me, which is Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people.

I have always helped where I can with charitable causes; I've raised money at charity dinners, I donate to causes close to my heart, and last Christmas I volunteered at Crisis at Christmas 2013. Every Christmas, Crisis welcomes single homeless people to their shelter where they are welcomed out of the cold and gives them with a place to sleep, shower, eat, medical treatment, in other words things we all have daily access to and take for granted. This year is no different. On the 23rd and on Christmas Eve, Henry and I are volunteering with Crisis at their Winter Rough Sleepers Centre. 

In 2010, more than 3,600 slept on the streets of London, in doorways, under bridges, in bushes, on benches etc. in temperatures that drop as low as minus centigrade. Exposed not only to the brutal, life-robbing elements of winter, rough sleepers are vulnerable to attack: abuse from people drunk after a night out or other homeless people. According to The Guardian rough sleepers have a life expectancy of just 42 years and take their own lives at 35 times more than the rest of us. Ben Taylor, a street outreach worker, explains that a person can become a rough sleeper for a great number of reasons and no two people are the same. Their rough sleeping can be the result of personal tragedy, a relationship breakdown, anti-social behaviour, a history of offending behaviour; inability to adapt after leaving the care system, the military or prison; fleeing domestic violence and financial crisis. Rough sleeping is always a last resort and often happens when people have no family or friends to fall back on. It's a rut that can be difficult to climb out of, with an entrenched rough sleeping lifestyle due to chaotic addiction which prevents them from managing accommodation, employment, relationships etc. leading them to live an isolated existence on the streets and outdoors.

Crisis are one of the many charities in London that take in rough sleepers, giving them somewhere safe and warm to stay while helping them get back on their feet. Of all the charities to volunteer for I chose Crisis because I've worked with them before and the good they do have been permanently imprinted into my mind, and also I am constantly reminded of the work they do: the Crisis Warehouse shares the same building as my artist's studio. 

There are many ways to help Crisis in their unrelenting quest to end homelessness. Henry and I are volunteering at the Winter Rough Sleepers centre on the 23rd and 24th this month. Last Christmas I did general volunteer work at one of their locations. Even if you can't spare the time you can reserve a place for a homeless person this Christmas by donating to their Crisis at Christmas 2014 appeal. For £21.62 you can reserve one place at Crisis at Christmas and provides, welcoming support from people who really care, three nutritious hot meals including Christmas dinner, the chance to shower and change clothes, have a haircut and get a health check expert advice on life-changing issues like housing and employment, and an introduction to Crisis year-round services for training and support for the future. You can also donate more, I've seen donations as large as £5000. Whether or not you choose to do so anonymously, you can leave a heartfelt message with your well wishes for a brighter new year and a Happy Christmas.

If you'd like to volunteer, there is a role for everyone. Specialised skills like healthcare, IT, hairdressing, and counselling are always in demand, but even just being a good listener can go a long way. Here are just some of the roles you can assume to help out at Crisis:

And of course, you can donate goods to Crisis to The Crisis Warehouse at 46 Willow Walk, London, SE1 5SF. Clothing, tinned food, and snacks are very welcome, priority items include towels, toiletries like deodorant, shaving foam and razors, and USB sticks. Henry and I have collected from my neighbours unwanted clothes which I'm taking to the warehouse. 

Myself, I don't celebrate Christmas because my family aren't religious. I won't be flying home to Malaysia to see my family---I do that during Chinese New Year---but I'm hardly sad to miss on all the gifts, Christmas dinner, and other trimmings of Christmas because even though I'll be in London, I'll be with Henry and we'll be helping people who don't have a family or friends to turn to. Isn't that what Christmas should be all about, not crass and pointless consumerism but charity and helping those who need it the most?

If you'd like to to make a difference this Christmas with Crisis At Christmas, here is the website to view all the roles and register to volunteer.



  1. Good on you, the world is a better place with people like you helping those that need it.

    R xx

  2. Wonderful. I'm such a fan of you and your blog. Thanks for being awesome! x N