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Volunteer for Crisis at Christmas

Thank you to our 11,000 volunteers who made Crisis at Christmas 2018 happen in Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, London, Newcastle and South Wales.

There is still time to sponsor a volunteer.

Applications for Christmas 2019 will open in October 2019.

In the meantime take a look at the FAQs below for more information.



Christmas volunteering FAQs

When is Crisis at Christmas open in London?

Day centres

Our Day Centre times vary, but will generally open from the morning of 23 December and close by 9.00 pm on 29 December. The opening hours are 9.00 am until 9.00 pm.

Residential centres

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


What are the different centres?  

Day centres

Our five day centres are for guests who have accommodation of some kind, such as hostels, B&Bs, those who are sofa surfing or obtain their accommodation via different sources. These centres open from 9 am to 9 pm, 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 cater for up to 250 guests each 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 six 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
  • Link Residential Centre for guests not yet linked into year round services
  • Winters Residential Centre for guests referred by Winter Night Shelters, which offer temporary overnight accommodation in churches
  • The Gate Residential Centre for those with alcohol or drug dependencies
  • Women’s Residential Centre for vulnerable women
  • Croydon Residential Centre

These centres are open 24 hours and provide meals and sleeping facilities as well as the full range of services and activities.


Where are the centres located?

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, colleges and empty buildings.

Our day centres will be located in:

  • North London
  • East London
  • South London
  • West London

For security and confidentiality reasons, the locations of our residential centres are confidential and full addresses can only be provided once volunteers have been confirmed into that centre. Where possible, we give an idea of centre location via ‘whereabouts’ maps on the online application. These give a rough idea of location without detailing the exact address.

Full addresses and maps will be available on the online application when it opens.


What roles can I apply for? 

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

The tasks you will be involved 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 out in a wide range of tasks. These may include giving out information about services, activities and entrainment at the centres, serving food and refreshments, manning restricted and unrestricted areas, cleaning duty, greeting guests and making them feel welcome, fire marshalling, supporting delivery of services e.g. you may be asked to support in IT, washing hair for the hairdressers, washing feet in podiatry, offering manicures to guests or helping calm the queue for the ever busy Advice Service. All General Volunteer’s jobs are varied, rewarding and a lot of fun.

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

As an Activities and Entertainment Volunteer you will deliver sessions such as arts and crafts, health and fitness (including dance, yoga and sport and IT) or provide varied forms of entertainment to our guests. We welcome musicians, comedians, DJs and cabaret performers as well as anyone who can delivery fun and engaging activity such as bingo and karaoke sessions or can warm everyone up with their best Noddy Holder impressions!

As a Logistic Volunteer you will be involved in logistic delivery of the project from our operations centre. You may be a driver, a technical support volunteer or may be helping to pack and load the goods which are needed to keep the centres and the project as a whole running smoothly.

If you have relevant skills and experience in one of our specialist areas we really need your help, so please sign up in the appropriate section once the application is open. 

View all the roles on offer in London


Is there an age limit for volunteers?

All Volunteers must be aged 18 or older. There is no upper age limit.

This has changed this year for safeguarding reasons. It used to be 16 if accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

Drivers must be aged between 25 and 65 for insurance purposes


How much time do I need to commit?

Generally, we ask volunteers to do 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. 

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 can sign up for one shift and 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. 

ForLogistics Volunteers, requirements differ depending on type. For Driving Volunteers and volunteers based at The pop-up warehouse, three shifts are required. Operations Volunteers are required to do four shifts.


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.


Do some shifts need more help than others?

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 for the Day Centre morning shift on 23 December. This is a vital shift in 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.

We have a variety of volunteering roles available so please think about the skills and experiences you have and you are able to offer to the project and our guests. if you have a specialist skill or qualification, please sign in for a role where you can utilize those most effectively and with greater benefit to the Crisis at Christmas and people we are trying to help.


Will you assign me a centre or can I choose?

We have to recruit the appropriate number of volunteers to each centre in order to open. If you can be flexible on location, please help us by selecting the 'Where I am needed' box in Step 4 of the application as this will allow us to assign you to a centre that is most in need of volunteers. If you select 'Where I am needed', you will be notified by email when you have been assigned to a centre.  

Some Services use the pop-up warehouse as a base or they operate out of just one centre, rather than in all centres. You will find details of location under each specific service. 

Entertainments Volunteers will have the flexibility to go “on tour” and travel around our London centres.

All Logistics Volunteers will be located at the pop-up warehouse.


Can I volunteer with my partner/friend/relative?

For General, Logistics and Services Volunteers this is possible. 

If you wish to apply with a friend you will need their application reference code which is emailed to them once they complete their application.  By submitting their reference code into step 2 of the application process, you will be allocated the same role, shifts and centre.  

Please note that Logistics Volunteers may be assigned to a number of 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 fulfil applicable requirements, such as insurance and qualifications. 


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'.


Do I need any training before Crisis at Christmas?

All new General volunteers and volunteers who have not volunteered in the past five years are invited to attend one of the New Volunteer Induction Sessions 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 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 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 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 Drivers 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 Pop-up warehouse Volunteers will be invitied to an optional warehouse Induction and during the application process you will be asked to select your preferred date for this.

We have a number of specialist volunteer roles which are generally assigned to more experienced volunteers and usually available through the nomination process only. Those include Shift Office Coordinator, Quarter Master, Service Liaison volunteer, Guest Welfare Support Volunteer, Kitchen Coordinator, as well as Senior and Key Volunteers roles. We provide specialist all year round training sessions to those volunteers to ensure they are appropriately prepared to deliver their responsibilities during Christmas.  


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 you use public transport 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 commences too late for arrivals for the 26 December morning shift (9.00 am). 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.


Do you provide Crisis at Christmas accommodation for volunteers?

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.


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

The Congestion Charge is payable on 23 and 24 December. This applies in specific areas within central London from 7.00 am to 6.00 pm and you can find more information here.


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 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.


What do I do if I am feeling poorly or ill?

If you’re ill, please don't come in to your shift. This is as you may not only pose a risk to other volunteers but most importantly our guests often have compromised immune systems and something that you might shake off easily could cause them major problems.

However, please do go into the Community pages and update your shift details or ring the Crisis at Christmas call centre to let your Shift Leader know.


Do you provide food for volunteers?

All the food at our centres is donated and it is our policy that guests always come first. We will endeavour to provide our volunteers with a meal, however this may not always be possible when running Crisis at Christmas operations. We will therefore recommend that you eat a meal before coming to the centres to start your shifts or bring a suitable light snack, especially if you have any special dietary requirements (please note those will only be allowed to be consumed in the volunteering area). We are also not able to guarantee access to a fridge, microwave and other means of cooking so please make sure you take this into consideration when bringing a readymade meal with you.

However you will also find plenty of hot beverages to keep you warm and cosy in the volunteer area! 


Are the centres accessible for people with additional support needs?

All our centres are wheelchair accessible and we will also endeavour to accommodate volunteers with other additional support needs. Please let us know in advance about any specific support needs you have so we can ensure that we have a suitable resources in place to support your volunteering.

When is Crisis at Christmas open?

We kick off our Christmas events on 4 December 2018 with our annual Carol Concert. We then have Health & Wellbeing events taking place on 18, 19 and 21 December 2018 and of course our Christmas day celebration on 25 December 2018.

Where are the centres located?

Our centres in Birmingham are in East and Central Birmingham. They are located in buildings that are donated to Crisis for use over Christmas only, such as schools, colleges and empty buildings.

For security and confidentiality reasons, the locations of our centres are confidential and full addresses can only be provided once volunteers have been confirmed. Where possible, we give an idea of centre location via ‘whereabouts’ maps on the online application. These give a rough idea of location without detailing the exact address.

What type of centres are open for Crisis at Christmas in Birmingham?

For Christmas in Birmingham we open day centres. Our day centres are for guests who have accommodation of some kind, such as hostels, B&Bs, those who are sofa surfing or get their accommodation from different sources. A small minority may be rough sleeping or may have come to us from winter night shelters. These centres open from 11am to 4pm, providing lunch and snacks for all guests as well as activities, entertainment and essential services such as advice and healthcare. The day centres cater for up to 100 guests each and are open to all.

When do volunteer applications open?

Applications for previous volunteers open on 17 October and on 24 October for the general public.

Is there an age limit for volunteers?

General volunteers must be aged 18 or older by 18th December 2018. There is no upper age limit for volunteers, except for drivers who must be 65 years old or younger.

When is Crisis at Christmas open?

Crisis at Christmas Edinburgh 2018 will take place on the 25, 26, 27 & 28 December and 1 January.

We will be open to guests from 11am-6pm

Where are the centre located?

Crisis at Christmas Edinburgh has been hosted by Southside Community Centre, Nicholson Street Edinburgh, since 2013.

What roles can I apply for?

You can sign up as a General Volunteer or join one of our Services, Logistics or Activities teams.  

Is there an age limit for volunteers?

General volunteers must be aged 16 or older by 21 December 2018. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and can only volunteer for set up/take down shifts (shifts where there are no guests).

Services, Activities and Logistics Volunteers must be aged 18 or older. For these roles there is no upper age limit, except for drivers who must be 65 years old or younger.

How much time do I need to commit?

We ask general volunteers to do a seven hour shift (plus a two hour training/induction session in the weeks before). Some roles require less time (such as activities and performers who do shorter sessions). We ask Key volunteers (team leaders) to commit to two shifts.

When and where is Crisis at Christmas Coventry and Warwickshire being held?

Wellbeing Week runs from 18-21 December 2018, which is a week of events aimed at improving members' health and wellbeing in the run up to Christmas. The events are held in hostels and day centres across the city. 

Our main Christmas event will be held on Christmas Day. Volunteers are expected to make their own travel arrangements to each venue and to be aware that there is no public transport on Christmas Day.

How do I apply?

Registration is now open and you can apply to volunteer here. There are various roles available including general support, kitchen, driving and activity leaders. We will also be asking for hairdressers, massage therapists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, healthcare professionals, yoga and fitness instructors for our Health and Wellbeing week. 

Will I receive training?

All of our Christmas Day volunteers will be expected to attend an induction session where we will cover everything you need to know to prepare you for your volunteering. You will be given a choice of dates after the application process. Health and Wellbeing week volunteers will be given a brief induction prior to the event.

Where is Crisis Skylight Newcastle?

Our Skylight Centre is located at 1-3 City Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 2AF. All volunteer training will be held here.


Where will Crisis at Christmas, Newcastle be held?

Crisis at Christmas Newcastle will be held at Blackfriars @ The Ouseburn, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2TQ. We will be open to guests from 10am to 5.30pm on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.


Can Crisis provide transport for me?

Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to provide transport for volunteers. However, once you have registered you can use the volunteer community website to arrange lift-shares.


Will parking be available for volunteers?

For the training the easiest car parks to use are either Manor Car Park or the Quayside Car Park. For the Christmas Day event street parking in the area is free and there are plenty of spaces along City Road and the surrounding area. The multi-storey car parks next to our Skylight Centre are closed on Christmas Day but Manors Car Park is open on Boxing Day.


Do I have to attend training, and do I have to attend even if I have in previous years? 

Yes, we require all our volunteers to attend training. We run fun, informative training ahead of the event so that our volunteers know their roles, key health and safety information and get the chance to meet their team mates ahead of the event.

New volunteers will be invited to attend a mandatory introduction to Crisis and Crisis at Christmas, as well a mandatory briefing session directly relating to their role and the services they will be involved with at the event.

Returning volunteers will need to attend a mandatory briefing that directly relates to their area as we aim to improve the event every year and you will need to be briefed on these improvements. However, it is no longer mandatory to attend the introduction if you have attended and volunteered before.

Volunteers that cannot attend their mandatory training will need to email the Newcastle Crisis at Christmas team regarding their circumstances. For the health, safety and enjoyment of everyone at the event we reserve the right to cancel your application if you do not attend training or contact the Newcastle Crisis at Christmas team.


I would like to donate some items, can I do that at the event?

Unfortunately we cannot take donations on Christmas Day or Boxing Day as we must sort and check all donations prior to the event. We will not have time or space to do this on site during the event, we are collecting donations at various drop off points in the north east from Monday 12 November to Wednesday 19 December. We encourage anyone with clothing, food or toiletries to donate to head over to Crisis Skylight Newcastle’s facebook to find your nearest donation drop off point.

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. We ask volunteers to plan flexible activities as attendance varies day to day and the setting is informal. We also ask volunteers to remember that activities should be accessible for all levels and nationalities. For volunteers interested in activities but who don’t feel confident leading a session, we still need your enthusiasm and skills! Sign up as a general volunteer. In your general volunteering shift briefings we encourage you to tell the Green Badge that you are an experienced activities volunteer and wish to support activities again.

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 this 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. 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.

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.

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.