Homelessness charity Crisis is calling for practitioners to provide treatment for homeless people at its temporary centres this Christmas.
The charity will run its annual Christmas campaign from 23–30 December, with centres open across London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh. Guests will receive shelter and hot meals, as well as access to healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits.
Levels of homelessness have increased in recent years, with rough sleeping rising 55% since 2010 and by 14% in 2014 alone. Crisis is calling for all practitioners, including optometrists, dispensing opticians and optical assistants for its opticians’ service. The service works in partnership with Vision Care for Homeless People to provide eye examinations. Last year, 300 guests had their eyes tested.
Ciara, who volunteered for the second time last year, said: “Initially I was quite nervous as I had no idea what to expect. However, the centres Crisis use are filled with enthusiastic, friendly volunteers who all want to have a great day and ensure all the guests have the same experience.
“The guests are all so grateful for the opticians’ service and it was a great way to broaden my experience. Any preconceptions you might have disappear as soon as you start chatting – it is easy to forget you are volunteering at a homeless shelter. You will be surprised at how much fun you can have while doing something so worthwhile.”
Chief executive of Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: “Christmas can be a lonely, isolating time for those without a home to call their own. This year has seen an alarming rise in the number of rough sleepers in England, all of whom deserve the shelter, companionship and support many of us take for granted at Christmas.
“That’s why the compassion and dedication of Crisis at Christmas volunteers is needed more than ever. By helping to make Christmas happen for homeless people, volunteers can not only bring some much-needed cheer to our guests but also set them up with the chance to have a more positive year ahead through the life-changing services at our Crisis Skylight centres.”
Crisis at Christmas centres are run by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life with registration now open via the Crisis website.