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