Hope and Charity: what you need is faith

I’ve been in the garden a fair bit between showers, and today’s 50 plus mph winds of Storm Eleanor, to tidy up. Everywhere is pretty dormant, life retreated into the inside to await warmer, sunnier times. A lot of work is needed now or things will struggle in the Spring.

One plant will swamp another; leaves will rot, retain moisture in destructive quantities. Equally too much now and the bugs and small creatures that need my garden to survive are hunkered down in those leaves.

Heaps of compost, still warming, replace the strewn foliage. It’s a staged process, a continuum.

And it’s not about getting it right. There is no ‘rigth’ in nature, just a semblance of balance. You control the bits you can and try and adapt when needed but you have to believe that, come that spring, there will be sun and warmth and the needed nourishment.

It felt much the same at Crisis this year. Every year for the last several I’ve volunteered to help at a homeless centre over Christmas. Crisis runs the year round but was formed to help at Christmas and that is still a major focus.

Around London there are nine centres that provide a mix of help: day care with meals, shelter, games, health care, alternative therapies and counselling alongside advice to help find accomodation; night shelters; help for those with substance issues; and a specific woman’s centre.

This year records were broken and no one cheered. But smiles on both the faces of the volunteers and guests spoke of an effort that was appreciated, however transient (and I’ve been the butt of criticism for thinking this is anything other than an inadequate sticking plaster on an continuing and unacceptable problem).

Both tasks involve hope, both involve the giving of time without any guarantee of any reward beyond the pleasure of doing something that may be worthwhile. Both are dependent, however, on faith, on belief, not in any religious sense, but in the sense that you can’t change the past but you might the future.

That, though, is where this analogy stops: with my garden, I have a reasonable expectation that the daffodils will appear, the roses will bud and the trees be fully leafed by June; I hold out no real expectation that that scandal of homelessness will end in my life time -sometimes I wonder if it will even actually decrease. That is where the greatest of these three graces steps in: hope. You have to hold to that hope. Sometimes it’s all there is.

This is a summary of some of the statistics from this year’s programme

We had 9 centres across London as well as Crisis at Christmas across other regions such as Newcastle, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Coventry.

You gave guests the opportunity to engage with people and interact in a supportive and welcoming environment enabling access to a variety of invaluable services which are difficult to access in their day to day lives.

Many of our guests start the journey out of homelessness with Crisis at Christmas, and return to Crisis at Christmas as spirited volunteers. The impact which Crisis at Christmas has for everyone involved cannot be underestimated.

9,726 volunteers gave up their time this Christmas

As of the 29 December we had served approx 26,700 meals

On Christmas day there were 4438 meals served with 1564 lunches and 1811 dinners

On 27-28 December we had 762 guests in our residential centres

639 items of clothing were mended

95 performers rocked the stages entertaining guests and volunteers

644 guests accessed the Healthcare service

312 eye tests were given

359 guests accessed the podiatry service

148 received Physiotherapy

286 received Massages

Healthcare professionals also volunteered their services to us demonstrating their specialist skills. The healthcare team operated a mobile service visiting all centres from the 24-29 December allowing guests to receive vital services that they would not normally have access to.

We also offered guests access to salon services where they could get their hair trimmed, washed, locs re-twisted and nails painted

Qualified massage and natural healing therapists were also on board offering their services to guests as well as getting to experience relaxing yoga sessions with qualified yoga volunteer

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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25 Responses to Hope and Charity: what you need is faith

  1. Cheers for people like you, Geoff. I’d take my hat off if it wasn’t so bleeding cold in here. And the expression on your dog’s face in that first pic is priceless. Have a wonderful year—you’ve certainly started it off brilliantly 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ritu says:

    I applaud all you volunteers 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Way to keep, “Christ” in the season! This is what it is all about. Gardening is a passion of mine and really does define life’s cycles so well. ✌️☯️🌻~Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Allie P. says:

    I am sure that every bit of that help is appreciated and makes a much greater impact than what you can see on the surface.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Profound thoughts, Geoff. Sticking plaster offers relief, if even temporary; but the recipients will know they are being given time and effort which will remain with them

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Smith says:

    Good for you, Geoff. I know the argument about volunteering being like a sticking plaster and not solving the problem – but those bits of plaster can make a big difference in people’s lives, even if only for a brief time.
    Had you just scolded the dog for something? He is not wearing a happy face!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. JT Twissel says:

    We’re just beginning to get our typical winter weather (lots of rain) which we need but which is going to cause much discomfort for homeless people. I agree that volunteering is often its own reward. Bless those who try to get that word out!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Blessings and love to all!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    You do so much good I am in awe. Long may you carry on . As for dog and the garden well what can say 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nick Bliss says:

    Well done Geoff on all counts. But anyone that dressed as you did to cycle to work is capable of anything (good). Why don’t you send your old cycling kit to Mr D Trump c/o The White House, and see what happens? Perhaps he will transform into a decent old blogging cove with an energetic social conscience. Well you never know, do you?

    But very well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Nick. My Lycra remains a staple of family memory but never to be worn again apparently. Trump as cyclist… see it myself but never say never. Hope all is well with you.

      Like

  11. That’s amazing Geoff, and I have a huge amount of admiration for what you and your fellow volunteers do. You’ve inspired me – watch this space!

    Liked by 1 person

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