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Volunteer at Crisis at Christmas in London

Crisis at Christmas is a unique volunteer effort that provides immediate help for homeless people at a critical time of year. By volunteering with us, you can make a real difference to people experiencing homelessness. We have lots of volunteering roles to fill so have a browse and see what suits you best.

Apply for Crisis at Christmas in London

Night owls

Join us on a residential centre night shift and volunteer where you’re most needed

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Healthcare professionals

We need qualified professionals to offer health promotion, advice and treatment to Crisis guests

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Behind the scenes

Help out behind the scenes with logistics and driving

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Creative people

Bring your creative and artistic skills to the centres

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Wellbeing services

From haircuts to massage to looking after guests' dogs

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Help prepare delicious meals for our guests

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Active people

Use your fitness to motivate and energise others

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Knowledge sharers

Use your knowledge and expertise to give advice to guests

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Team leaders

Lead and coordinate a group of people

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IT skills

Help guests get online and make the most of our IT

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Good listeners

Listen, engage, support and do

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Your Christmas questions answered

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 application process. Activities Volunteers offering to run an activity will be asked to provide an outline of their planned activity on the online application form. Doctors, Dentists, Podiatrists and other Healthcare Volunteers will need to upload proof of their professional qualifications.

Please note that Food Safety training is available through Crisis for those who want to volunteer in the kitchens and MiDAS training for some of those who want to drive our minibuses.


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 be possible to select it on the application form.

When we receive your application online we will, in most cases, assign you immediately to the role and shifts that you have selected. In some cases we may not be able to assign your role and shifts immediately, especially for Services and Activities Volunteers, or we may need to reallocate you to an alternative shift, but we will keep you informed by email.


I was a guest at Crisis at Christmas; can I apply as a volunteer?

We welcome former guests as volunteers. Please note you may not be a guest and a volunteer in the same year. If you would like to discuss any issues surrounding this please contact us at ccvolunteering@crisis.org.uk


Can I claim back my travel expenses?

Unfortunately, the large number of volunteers involved in Crisis at Christmas means that we do not have the resources to reimburse travel costs.

Our Day Centres open for guests from 9am - 9pm between 23 and 29 December.

Our Residential and Dual Centres are open 24 hours, and provide sleeping facilities for guests from either 22 or 23 December until the morning of 30 December. 

Our centres in London are in Zones 1-5. They are located in buildings that are donated to Crisis for use over Christmas only, such as schools and colleges

Our Day Centres will be in:

  • North London
  • East London
  • West London

For security reasons, the locations of our Residential Centres are confidential. Full address details are available on the online application portal and can be seen by registered volunteers only.

All volunteers must be aged 18 or older by 22 December 2019. There is no upper age limit.

Under 18s are not able to volunteer, even if accompanied by a parent or guardian.


Drivers must be aged between 25 and 65 for insurance purposes.

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.

GeneralLogistics and Services Volunteers can volunteer with a friend.

If you wish to apply with someone else, you will need their application reference code which is emailed to them once they complete their application.  By submitting their reference code in Step 2 of the application process, you will be allocated the same role, shifts and centre as your friend, if these shifts are still available. 

Please note that Logistics Volunteers may be assigned to several different tasks once they arrive at the pop-up warehouse. Whilst you can apply with a friend and travel to your shift together, we cannot guarantee you will be assigned the same tasks.

For Services Volunteers, this is only possible if both people are volunteering for the same service and meet applicable requirements, such as insurance and qualifications. 



All first-time General Volunteers and those who have not volunteered for Crisis at Christmas in the past five years are invited to attend a New Volunteer Induction session in 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 these sessions.

All Services and Activities Volunteers are invited to attend a briefing session specific to their area, which will also include an overview of Crisis at Christmas. New and returning volunteers should attend this briefing to learn about any changes to your service this year. Please note that new Services and Activities 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 area-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 multiple weekend dates in November and December at the Crisis offices in central London. You will be able to select your preferred date for training as part of your application. Alternatively, you can complete this qualification online via trusted third parties.

All new Driver Volunteers will be required to attend one of the Transport briefings. You will be able to select your preferred date before you submit your application online. Drivers will have the option of indicating their interest in attending MiDAS training (Minibus Awareness Scheme) as part of the application process. This requires D1 category on your licence. There are limited MiDAS spaces available and they will be assigned on a needs basis. While MiDAS training is required for Drivers using minibuses (25% of our fleet), Drivers without MiDAS will still have plenty of work to do!

All new Warehouse Volunteers will be invited to an optional warehouse induction. You will be asked to select your preferred date for this during the application process.

We have several specialist volunteer roles which are generally assigned to more experienced volunteers and usually available through nomination only. These include Shift Office Coordinator, Quartermaster, Service Liaison Volunteer, Guest Welfare Support Volunteer, Kitchen Coordinator, as well as Senior and Key Volunteers roles. We provide specialist year-round training sessions to these volunteers to ensure they are fully prepared to deliver their responsibilities during Christmas. 

Due to the high numbers of volunteers and cost involved, we are unable to provide accommodation. 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. Please note that we are unlikely to negotiate discounts that will beat high street deals currently available.

The Congestion Charge is waived on weekends, public holidays and the days between Christmas and New Year, so it is not payable from 6pm on 24 December to 7am on 2 January.

The Congestion Charge is payable on 23 and 24 December. This applies in specific areas within central London from 7am to 6pm and you can find more information here.


Both the Low Emission Zone and the Ultra Low Emission Zone charges are payable 365 days a year so there will be no exception over the Christmas week. 

The following centres are within the ULEZ zone:

  • North London Day Centre
  • The Gate Residential Centre
  • South London Centre

If you intend to drive to any of your shifts, please check your travel route to find out whether you will be passing through the Ultra Low Emissions Zone and whether your vehicle will be affected. You can find out more on the TFL website.

If you’re ill, please don't come in for your shift. Doing so, you would pose a risk to other volunteers and to our guests, many of whom have compromised immune systems. An illness you might easily shake off could cause them major problems.

If you feel you can’t attend your shift, please log on to the Crisis Community pages and update your shift details or call the Crisis at Christmas call centre on 0300 636 1000 and we will let your Shift Leader know.

All our centres are wheelchair accessible and we always do our best to make volunteering easy and enjoyable for people with additional support needs. Please let us know in your application about any specific needs you have so we can make sure we are supporting you fully while you volunteer.

Unfortunately, our opportunities for corporate volunteering in the run up to Christmas are very limited this year and we are already fully-booked.

If you are keen to volunteer together with friends or colleagues, the best option would be to register individually as General Volunteers and sign up for the same shifts at the same centre. The General Volunteer role is where we are most able to accommodate large numbers of people signing up for the same shift, as we recruit around 100 General Volunteers for each shift.

We particularly need volunteers for Night Owl shifts and to help us close down our centres on 30 December.

Christmas with Crisis, our policies, procedures and you 2019 We want our guests, employees and volunteers to experience this celebrated and life-changing event in a safe and healthy environment. Keeping to the policies and procedures outlined in this booklet will help us all achieve this.

The booklet contains all our policies and procedures including health and safety, volunteer guidelines, diversity and inclusion and more.

Our policies and procedures and you 2019 (pdf)

Day Centres

Our three day centres are primarily for guests who have overnight accommodation elsewhere, for example in a hostel or B&B, and those who are sofa surfing. These centres open from 9am to 9pm, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for all guests as well as learning opportunities, activities, entertainment and essential services such as advice and healthcare. The day centres each cater for up to 250 guests and 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.


Residential Centres

There are four purely residential centres for guests who are assessed to be most in need of essential services:

  • Outreach Residential Centre where guests are referred by their outreach workers
  • Winters Residential Centre for guests referred by Winter Night Shelters, which offer temporary overnight accommodation in churches but close over Christmas week
  • The Gate Residential Centre for those with alcohol or drug dependencies
  • Women’s Residential Centre


Dual Centres

These are open 24 hours and provide meals and sleeping facilities as well as a full range of services and activities. Guests can come just to use our daytime services or stay overnight if they are also in need of accommodation. These are:

  • Croydon Centre
  • South London Centre

You can sign up as a General Volunteer or join one of our ServicesActivities and Entertainment or Logistics teams.

The tasks you will be involved with will vary depending on your role but please see the brief overview of responsibilities below:


As a General Volunteer you will be using your adaptability and enthusiasm to support the Shift Team, running the centre by helping with a wide range of tasks. These may include giving out information about services, activities and entertainment at the centres, serving food and refreshments, manning restricted areas, cleaning duties, or greeting guests and making them feel welcome.

You might also be asked to support the delivery of a certain service e.g. helping in the IT suite, washing hair in the salon or managing the queue for the ever-busy Advice Service.

Some shifts will be busier than others, but you can use any quiet time to chat to guests and get to know them.


As a Service Volunteer you could be supporting the delivery of huge range of services including Catering, Advice, Healthcare and Dentistry, and Massage and Podiatry. If you have a specialist qualification which would enable you to support one of these areas, we would love to hear from you once the application process opens.


As an Activities and Entertainments Volunteer you might be helping deliver sessions such as arts and crafts, health, fitness and new skills; or you might be one of our many talented performers, providing entertainment and delight to guests.

We welcome musicians, artists and performers of all backgrounds, as well as anyone who can deliver fun and engaging activities such as bingo, karaoke or guest-led performance.


As a Logistics Volunteer you will be involved in the practical delivery of the project and are likely to be based at our pop-up warehouse in Bermondsey. You could be a Driver, a Technical Support Volunteer or lend a hand packing and loading the huge number of supplies we need to keep the centres and the project running smoothly.


If you have relevant skills and experience in one of our specialist areas, we could really use your expertise, so please sign up in the appropriate section once applications open.

Generally, we ask volunteers to commit to a minimum of two shifts across the week on two different days. However, this varies for different roles. 


As a General Volunteer, if this is your first time volunteering with Crisis at Christmas, you will be able to sign up for a maximum of four shifts.


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 can sign up for one shift and do not have to volunteer for a whole shift. During the application process, you will be asked to let us know the hours you would like to perform within.


For Logistics Volunteers, requirements differ depending on your role. For Driving Volunteers and volunteers based at the pop-up warehouse, three shifts are required. Operations Volunteers are required to do four shifts.

We often struggle to find enough people to cover:

  • all roles between 27 and 30 December
  • night shifts in the Residential Centres

We are also keen to encourage volunteers to sign up for the Day Centre morning shifts on 23 December. This is a vital part of the Crisis at Christmas 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.

If you have a specialist skill or qualification, please consider signing up for a role where you can use your expertise to make a real difference to our guests.

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".

However if you are a healthcare professional, massage volunteer, natural healer or yoga teacher you will need to submit your own personal liability insurance certificate. Details of requirements for each role can be found on the online application system.

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 you use public transport wherever 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. Please note that public transport will commence too late to allow you to arrive on time for the 26 December morning shift (9am). Parking restrictions are normally lifted on 25 and 26 December, but please check this before you travel. As soon as we have parking information for specific centres, we will post this on Crisis Community.

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.

In most cases it will not be possible to park at the centres as space is often very 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.

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 log into Crisis Community to do so. The more advance warning we have, the better chance we have of managing the shifts and providing the best service for our guests. Please note that you will not be able to change your shift to one that is already full.

All the food at our centres is donated and it is our policy that guests always come first. We do our best to provide our volunteers with a meal, however this may not always be possible. We therefore recommend that you eat a meal before coming to the centres to start your shifts or bring snacks, especially if you have any special dietary requirements (please note you will only be able to eat these in the Volunteers’ area).

We are not able to guarantee access to a fridge, microwave or other means of cooking so please make sure you take this into consideration when bringing food with you.

You will have access to plenty of hot drinks to keep you warm and cosy in the Volunteers’ area!



This year we have a new centre, the South London Centre which will be located in Bermondsey, a borough with high levels of rough sleepers (you will see the address when you sign up).  This centre will be a dual centre which means it caters for both day and residential guests in one place. Guests will be able to present at the local centre, if they need a bed they will be assessed by our advice team and then stay with us if they need too - all at one centre. 

We believe it is better for our guests to remain closer to their existing support network and their local outreach team who work with us to refer guests into the project and support them during the week. We believe it is  a better experience for our guests to have their needs met at the centre they present in rather than moving them across London. 

This means we no longer have the LINK centre or the South London Day Centre.  The Green Badge and key volunteer teams will be combining forces to run the new centre. We expect demand for shifts  to be high, so please sigh up early.  If you can't get your first choice of shift then please think about trying something new, we always need lots of night owls or maybe try a different centre this year – we are particularly in need of volunteers at our centre in Croydon.

We hope you understand that these changes are about providing the best possible service to our guests, which ultimately is what we all want.