As part of our Christmas Shopping Weekend, on Saturday 24th November hush will donate 10% of all the sales we make to Crisis, the national charity for homeless people. We spoke to Richard Lee, Director of Fundraising at Crisis, about their Christmas campaign and the vital work they do all year-round…
Meet Our Charity Partner
How did Crisis’ Christmas centres come about?
Crisis’ Christmas centres (known as Crisis at Christmas) were founded by Bill Shearman in 1967 as an emergency response to a homelessness crisis in London. Shearman was reportedly ‘devastated’ by the conditions he witnessed on a visit to a homelessness charity called the Simon Community in east London. He considered the existence of homelessness in a rich western country an ‘obscenity’ – importantly, he also felt it was an issue that could be solved. The aspiring politician joined forces with a network of homelessness activists in east London to raise awareness of homelessness and destitution, appealing personally to Tim Sainsbury and receiving donations of food which were distributed to rough sleepers from pop-up centres. A candle-lit vigil the Sunday before Christmas was attended by 3,000 people in Hyde Park, raising £7,000 for homelessness organisations working in the East End.
Over Christmas specifically, what are Crisis' aims? What impact do you hope your work will have?
Crisis supports thousands of people on their journeys out of homelessness. At Christmas, we open special centres providing safety, companionship and essential services to homeless people at the coldest and most isolating time of the year. Many of these people would otherwise face the prospect of spending Christmas alone and in potentially life-threatening conditions on the streets. We work extremely hard to reach as many people as we can, but Crisis is not just for Christmas. We encourage our guests to continue accessing support at our year-round Crisis Skylight services in the New Year, to help them out of homelessness for good.
How vital are donations to your work? And what might donations be used for over the festive period in particular?
Crisis relies on donations to deliver year-round services to over 10,000 people across Britain, and continue work towards our mission of ending homelessness once and for all. At Crisis we know it’s possible to end homelessness – but while there are still people in our society without a home, we open our Christmas centres to provide food, warmth, vital services, advice and the first steps out of homelessness. This Christmas, we’re asking people to give £28.18 to support our Christmas centres and year-round work. You can donate here.
Of course, Crisis' work is all-year round. What are the key challenges that homeless people face in the UK today, and how does Crisis help?
Each person’s homelessness is different, and at Crisis we work to provide tailored support to every person who presents at our Crisis Skylight centres to ensure that they are provided with the tools they need to leave homelessness behind for good. People lose their homes for a variety of reasons. Rising pressure from high rents and low pay, or a sudden life event like losing a job or family breakdown, can quickly force people into homelessness. You can find out more information about different types and causes of homelessness on our homelessness knowledge hub.
How have the challenges facing Crisis changed since you started out and how have you adapted to them as a charity?
Crisis has seen significant changes to statutory services and support available for homeless people in the community since the inception of our Crisis Skylight centre model in 2002. Since then, overall levels of homelessness nationwide have risen significantly, including a 169% increase in the numbers of individuals rough sleeping since 2010 in England.
Members increasingly come to our services with multiple and complex needs, and our Skylight model will continue to adapt over the next five years, with the introduction of lead workers who will provide one-to-one support for each and every member to ensure that they leave homelessness behind for good.
What wider, long-term changes does Crisis campaign for?
Crisis campaigns to end homelessness for good in Great Britain. Homelessness ended doesn’t mean that no-one will ever lose their home again, but that everyone facing homelessness gets the help they need quickly. It means making sure we all have a place to live, and together doing everything we can to stop people from losing their homes in the first place. We’ve published a plan showing the solutions that can end homelessness in Britain.
We know we can #EndHomelessness. But we need the political will and commitment to make it happen. Join our Everybody In campaign, and ask your politician to pledge their support for ending homelessness for good.
What does a day at Crisis look like?
Every day we work side by side with people to help them rebuild their lives. We use our decades of experience of working with homeless people, to shape the services we provide and the changes we campaign for. How we can help depends on someone's needs and situation. We welcome members to attend one-to-one coaching support for housing and employment, and provide activities, courses and classes to help members build their confidence, skillset and motivation which are all vital to move out of homelessness.
What would be your advice to someone wanting to work for a charity organisation?
Take time to think about which issues are closest to you to ensure maximal job satisfaction. Show your passion for your cause and get involved in working directly with beneficiaries as often as possible. You will feel more fulfilled and effective in your role if you have a strong knowledge of the organisation you work for and how it impacts people’s lives.
In addition to donating, how can individuals help support your work?
There are many ways to get involved with Crisis:
Volunteer: Volunteer at one of our Christmas centres. Whatever your skills are, there’s a role for you. You could run a yoga session for guests, or if you can sing like Whitney, you could lead a karaoke tournament.
Campaign:Join our Everybody In campaign to make ending homelessness a reality. Sign up, tell us why you’re In to end homelessness, and write to your local MP to ask for their commitment to making homelessness a thing of the past.
Fundraise: By taking part in our Crisis Icebreaker event, or creating your own fundraising activity, you can raise vital funds to end homelessness. Whatever your passion is, make it Crisis: reach out to our Events and Community team today for expert fundraising advice to help make your event a success.