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Catering volunteers needed to help homeless people this Christmas

Catering volunteers needed to help homeless people this Christmas

National homelessness charity Crisis is calling on trained chefs, experienced catering staff and keen cooks to provide hot, healthy meals for homeless people at their temporary centres this Christmas.

Crisis at Christmas 2015 runs from 23-30 December, with centres set to open across London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh. As well as warmth, companionship and hot meals, guests will also receive healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits.

Giving guests three hot meals a day – along with the all-important Christmas Dinner – is one of the most important services on offer at Crisis at Christmas. Last year the volunteer catering team served more than 31,000 meals.

Crisis at Christmas centres are run by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life with registration now open at crisis.org.uk/volunteer

Claire Fraser, who has volunteered as a head chef for the last four years, said: “Preparing the food at Crisis at Christmas allows me to be part of truly essential service and is the most rewarding part of my year. It can be a challenge getting everything prepared and you have to be creative with the ingredients on hand if you're going to provide three hot and varied meals every day, but that is part of the fun.

“Volunteering with Crisis becomes even more rewarding when you see what a positive impact it has on the guests' self-esteem. The hot meals help to build their strength over the week, which in turn helps them to engage with the support services and start the journey away from homelessness."

Homelessness has increased markedly in recent years, with rough sleeping rising by 55% since 2010 and by 14% in the last year alone.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, 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.”

Homelessness statistics

Official government statistics showed that 2,744 people slept rough in England on any one night during 2014 – a 55% rise on 2010.

In London alone, 7,581 people slept rough at some point during 2014/15, a 16% rise on the previous year, and more than double the figure of 3,673 in 2009/10.

Recent Government figures also show that 13,850 households were accepted as homeless between April and June of this year - a rise of 5% across England and 10% in London compared to the same time last year. This makes a total rise of 36% since 2009/10.

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