Crisis At Christmas Essential Information
Please read ALL of this information before you sign up as a volunteer and before you
contact our office with any questions. Thanks!
BEFORE YOU VOLUNTEER
When is Crisis At Christmas open?
All Centres are open by 12 noon on Thursday 23 December and close at 11 am on Thursday 30
December. Some are Day Centres, which are open from 9.30 am till 9 pm. The other Centres are
Residential Centres, open 24 hours, and provide sleeping facilities for guests.
Where are the Centres located?
All our Centres are in London within Zones 1-3. They are set up in buildings that are donated to
Crisis for use over Christmas only, such as schools, colleges and empty buildings.
Our Day Centres will be located in Finsbury Park, Stratford, Bermondsey,
Hammersmith and Deptford. For security and confidentiality reasons we can only release
full addresses to volunteers when they have been confirmed at particular Centres.
The locations of our Residential Centres are not yet confirmed, but all will be in London
within Zones 1-3. As soon as this information is available we will send out details by email
to those who have shifts assigned.
What are the different Centres?
We will open five Day Centres this year for guests who are in accommodation of some kind, such
as hostels, B&Bs or staying with friends. These Centres open from 9.30 am to 9 pm, providing
breakfast, lunch and dinner for all guests as well as learning opportunities, activities, entertainment
and essential services. The Day Centres will cater for 100 to 200 guests each. One of the five
Centres is the Deptford Reach Day Centre, which is a much smaller centre and open year-round.
CC volunteers enable the centre to stay open over the Christmas period. The Day Centres are
open to all. If a guest is assessed to be in need of more specialist services, they may be referred to
the appropriate Residential Centre.
We will open four Residential Centres this year for guests who are most in need of essential
services. There will be a Rough Sleepers Centre, a Quiet Centre, a Dependency Centre (for those
with alcohol or drug dependencies) and a Women’s Centre for vulnerable women. These Centres
are open 24 hours and provide sleeping facilities as well as the full range of services and activities.
What roles can I apply for?
You can sign up as a General Volunteer or join one of our Service, Support or Activities teams.
Please check out the Crisis At Christmas pages on our website for information about each role. If
you have relevant professional skills and experience in one of our specialist areas we really need
your help, so please sign up in the appropriate section.
Is there an age limit for volunteers?
General Volunteers must be aged 16 or older by 22 December 2010. If you are 16 or 17 years
old, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over the age of 25 on your shifts. If this
applies to you, please ensure that both applicants choose exactly the same Centre and shift times.
Do not choose No Preference for centre location as this will make it impossible to allocate you to
the same shift. Check carefully on your confirmation e-mail that both parties have been allocated to
the same centre and shifts. There is no upper age limit.
Service, Activities and Support Volunteers must be aged 18 or older. There is no upper age
Do you need any qualifications or experience to volunteer?
You do not need any qualifications or experience to be a General Volunteer.
Some Service Volunteers and Activities Volunteers are required to have specialist skills,
qualifications and appropriate insurance before they can apply and, if so, volunteers must provide
proof of these. Specific requirements are clearly stated under each service in Step 3 of the
Please note that food safety training is available through Crisis for those who want to volunteer in
the CC kitchens, and MIDAS training is provided for those who want to drive our minibuses.
How much time do I need to commit?
All volunteers are required to do a minimum of two shifts across the week on two different days*.
For General Volunteers in the 24-hour Residential Centres and Support Volunteers in the
Warehouse and Ops Centre, it is only possible to sign up for one shift in every 24-hour period,
which means a maximum number of eight shifts over the week.
For General Volunteers in the Day Centres it is only possible to sign up for one shift in every 12
hour period, which also means a maximum of eight shifts over the week.
*Note for Service and Activities Volunteers: although we encourage all volunteers to sign up for
a minimum of two shifts, it may be possible to volunteer in some services for just one shift or two
shifts on the same day, depending on shift times and volunteer numbers.
*Entertainment volunteers do not have to volunteer for a whole shift. During the application
process, you are asked to let us know the hours you would like to perform within.
Is there a deadline for applications?
We strongly suggest you apply early to ensure you receive your preferred shifts. Once we have
assigned the appropriate number of volunteers to a shift, it will not be possible to select that shift in
the application process.
For General Volunteers, we will be closing down shifts as they fill up so we strongly urge
you to apply as soon as possible in order to ensure you are able to volunteer.
For Service, Activities and Support Volunteers we need to close recruitment up to two
weeks before we open CC, depending on numbers. Some services can only
accommodate a limited number of volunteers, so please apply early to avoid
How do I select my volunteering shifts?
You can choose which shifts you would like during the application process. Please only choose
shifts you can definitely attend. If a shift is full, it will not appear on the list of shift choices.
When we receive your application online we will, in most cases, assign you immediately to the role
and shifts that you have selected. We will confirm this by email within 10 working days. In some
cases we may not be able to assign your role and shifts immediately, especially for Service and
Activities Volunteers, or we may need to reallocate you to an alternative shift, but we will keep you
informed by email.
Do some shifts need more help than others?
Most definitely! We always struggle to find enough people to cover the period 27 to 30 December
for all volunteer roles. Night shifts in the Residential Centres are also particularly difficult to fill.
We often need more volunteers on the morning shift on 23 December. This is a vital shift in the CC
week as volunteers help with the last-minute preparations before opening, making sure everything
is in place and the Centres are welcoming and comfortable for our guests.
Will you assign my Centre or can I choose?
We have to assign the appropriate number of volunteers to each Centre in order to open CC. If you
can be flexible on location, please help us by selecting the No Preference box in Step 3 of the
application as this will allow us to assign you to a centre that still needs volunteers. This applies
especially to Service and Activities Volunteers. If you select No Preference, you will be notified by
email when you have been assigned to a centre.
Entertainment Volunteers will have the flexibility to go ‘on tour’ and travel around our London
Some services use our Operations Centre as a base or they operate out of just one CC Centre,
rather than in all Centres. You will find details of location under each specific service.
All support volunteers will be located at the Operations Centre. For set up and close down shifts
your location will be ‘to be confirmed’ and we will confirm your centre location by e-mail the week
before your shift.
I used to be a guest at Crisis At Christmas; can I apply as a volunteer?
Yes. Let us know that you have been a guest at a previous CC in the ‘About You’ section of the
application process and we will arrange to meet with you in order to talk about the volunteering
roles that might best suit you. We must also emphasise that, as a volunteer, you will not be able to
access the various services available to guests.
Can I volunteer with my partner/friend/relative?
For General, Activities and Support Volunteers, this is possible. When completing your
application, please select exactly the same role, shifts and location as the person with whom you
want to volunteer. Provided you do this, you should be given the same shifts, but please do check
your confirmation email carefully to ensure that this is the case.
For Service Volunteers, this is only possible if both people are volunteering for the same service
and have the appropriate qualifications and insurance, if applicable.
Does Crisis provide insurance for volunteers?
Crisis volunteers are covered by our public liability insurance, which covers ‘legal liability to third
parties as a result of bodily injury, property damage, obstruction, trespass or nuisance’.
PREPARING FOR CRISIS AT CHRISTMAS
What should I do once my shifts are confirmed?
You will receive a unique login and password that will allow you to access Crisis Community, the
secure area for CC volunteers. Crisis Community contains general information and updates on CC
Information on the CC Centre where you will be volunteering, including maps.
A feedback forum where you can post comments or pose questions to other volunteers.
A discussion board to help arrange transport (via car-sharing) to and from the Centres or to
keep in touch with new friends.
Do I need any training before CC?
All new General Volunteers are invited to attend one of the New Volunteer Induction Sessions in
November and December. During the application process you will be asked to select your
preferred date for this. We strongly recommend that all new General Volunteers attend one of
All Service, Activities and Support Volunteers are invited to attend a briefing session specific to
their area that will also include an overview of Crisis At Christmas. Dates will be sent by email after
we receive your application. New and past volunteers should attend this briefing to learn about
changes to their services this year. Please note that new Service, Activities and Support
Volunteers do not need to attend the New Volunteer Induction Session for General Volunteers but
we strongly recommend that you all attend one of the specific sessions.
Catering Service Volunteers require a Level 2 Food Safety Award to volunteer. If you do not
have this qualification, you can attend a one-day food safety course which will be running on some
weekend days in November and December at the Crisis offices. You will receive details of
available dates and how to register after we receive your application.
All Drivers will be required to attend one of the Transport briefings on either 11 or 12 December
2010. You will be able to select your preferred date before you submit your application on-line.
Dependent on the needs of the service, some Transport Volunteers may be offered training to
become MIDAS (Minibus Driver Assessment and Training Scheme) certified in order to drive our
minibuses. If this is the case, we will contact you to arrange additional training in November.
Warehouse volunteers will also be required to attend a briefing at the Operations Centre on 11 or
Operations Centre Volunteers can drop in to an Open House session at the Operations Centre on
Sunday 19 December between 12 noon and 4 pm.
If you are only doing a set up or close down shift you do not need to attend a formal briefing
Do you provide transport for volunteers?
Due to limited resources, you will need to make your own transport arrangements to and from your
Centre before and after your shifts. If you need to travel between Centres during a shift, transport
will be provided.
We recommend that you use public transport, if possible, as parking is often limited in and around
the Centres. As there is no public transport on 25 December and a limited service on 26
December, we appreciate that driving may be the only option on those days. Parking restrictions
are normally lifted on 25 and 26 December, but please check this before you travel.
Car pools and lift-share opportunities will be posted on Crisis Community. When you have been
assigned your shifts, please log on to find out if there are any in your area.
Do you provide accommodation for volunteers?
We are unable to do this, but we do try to negotiate discounted rates with hotels and hostels close
to the Centres. Information will be posted on Crisis Community as soon as rates become available.
Will there be parking at the Centres?
In most cases it will not be possible to park at the Centres as space is often limited. We will provide
as much information about parking options as possible when we have confirmed the location of
each centre. You can also check online for parking options in the area around the Centres.
Will I have to pay the Congestion Charge?
The Congestion Charge is waived on public holidays and the days between Christmas and New
Year, so it is not payable from Saturday 25 to Thursday 30 December inclusive.
The Congestion Charge is payable on Monday to Friday 20 to 24 December. This applies in
specific areas within central London from 7 am to 6 pm and costs £8 if paid on the day (the fee
increases if paid the following day). Go to http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/congestioncharging/ for
Can I claim back my travel expenses?
Unfortunately, the large number of volunteers involved in Crisis At Christmas (8,000 plus) means
that we do not have the resources to reimburse travel costs.
Can I change or cancel my shifts?
We urge you to apply only for shifts that you will definitely be able to attend, and to stick with the
shifts that are assigned to you. If you are forced to change or cancel your shifts, please let us know
as soon as you can by e-mailing the volunteering team at email@example.com. The more
advance warning we have, the better we can manage the rotas. Please note that we will not be
able to change your shift to one that is already full.
What should I do if I have a question?
Last year we received more than 16,000 enquiries in the run up to CC. As a charity with limited
resources it is difficult for us to meet this demand. Please help us by ensuring that you have read
this Essential Information document thoroughly and visited our website before contacting us.
Once you have been confirmed as a CC Volunteer you will be able to log on to Crisis Community,
which contains a wealth of information about Crisis At Christmas and your individual volunteer
If you have not managed to find the information that you need, you can contact the volunteering
team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 0844 892 8980, but please note
that we are extremely busy, especially in December, trying to get everything done to open the
Centres on time. If you do contact us, please be patient.
What happens when I arrive for my first shift?
You need to sign in at the main desk, clearly stating your role on the shift that day. You will be
given a badge that will identify your role; white for General Volunteers, white with orange rim for
Service Volunteers and white with burgundy rim for Activities and Entertainments Volunteers.
Volunteers who speak a language fluently, other than English, will be given the appropriate flag to
display on their badge.
General Volunteers should go straight to the designated volunteer area for a briefing from
the Shift Leader. You will be assigned to a task after the briefing.
Service Volunteers should go to the shift office after signing in so that they can let the
Services Liaison Volunteer know that they have arrived. You should then go to the area
designated for your service. The Services Liaison Volunteer will be available to provide
information and support throughout your shift.
Activities Volunteers should go to the designated volunteer area where the Activities
Organiser will provide a briefing at the beginning of their shift.
Entertainments Volunteers should go to the shift office after signing in to let them know
that they have arrived. You should then go to the Entertainments area where the
Entertainment Organiser will help you to set up.
Support Volunteers should sign in at the warehouse reception desk where they will be told
which part of the Operations Centre they need to go to. You will receive a full briefing
before your shift starts.
Set up and Close down Volunteers should sign in at reception and then go to the
volunteers’ area where they will receive a full briefing and introduction before being
designated a set of tasks for the day.
Can volunteers use the services at CC?
Services are strictly open to guests only, with two exceptions. Volunteers can use the service
provided by the Samaritans and they can attend the AA, CA and NA meetings.
Do you provide food for volunteers?
Yes we do, but we are not able to resource enough food to provide the same meals for all guests
and volunteers. To ensure that we are able to provide food for everyone, we have to operate two
All volunteers will be provided with hot soup and bread as a minimum. Depending on food
supplies, the chef may also be able to provide a pasta or rice dish, but this is not
guaranteed. If you have specific dietary requirements, we recommend that you bring
snacks with you. Please note that if food items are brought to the Centres, these must be
consumed in the volunteer area only. We ask all volunteers to eat a meal before coming to
the Centres to start their shifts.
Guests will be given breakfast, lunch and dinner in all Centres.