I haven't posted for a while now as like everyone else with an allotment/gardening blog there hasn't been a lot going in either. We have had some rain in the last few days so that's cleared the snow away, well almost.
I had to attend a prep meeting in London on Saturday for 'Crisis' who are the wonderful charity that look after the homeless, not just at Christmas but all year round. The weather as you know has been terrible and I wasn't sure I would make the meeting. However I did manage to get there and was so glad I did. It was held in a lovely Baptist church in Shaftsbury Avenue and at a guess I would say there were a couple of hundred people there.'Crisis' need and usually get 6,000 volunteers across the country, we were all first timers.
The speakers were all long term volunteers with loads of experience, some with 14 years or more working with the homeless. It was informative, fun and lovely to learn how 'Crisis' came about which was due to the 1960's film 'Cathy come Home' which is a classic now. but it really got started big time in the early 1970's.
I have volunteered to do a shift from 8.30 - 4pm in a day centre in London on Christmas day and again on 27th Dec from 4pm-10pm.
The meeting highlighted the possible tasks we may be assigned to do, some of which I would never have imagined, and possibly may not like. But we (being myself, my son, his girlfriend and an Australian friend of theirs) all discussed it afterwards and all agreed it didn't put us off and we were looking forward to being useful in making the 'guests' (as they are called ) have a wonderful Christmas, something that we always take for granted.
All sorts of professional people like Doctor's, Nurses, Pharmacists, podiatrists, Opticians,all give their services for free, and more importantly their time over a 2 weeks period leading up to and after Christmas. Not full time of course but the odd few hour shifts here and there. The 'guest' using the centres might not have had a medical check-up for years, or had their eyes tested or their teeth checked, so it's a wonderful time for them. They even get to have a haircut or a manicure or perhaps a massage as well. This is where we come in (possibly) so we are prepared !!! to maybe wash their hair, or feet (gloves provided) ready for the haircut or podiatrist. as well as the usual serving the food to tables (not cooking as have to hold a qualification) there is also tasks like generally chatting and more importantly LISTENING to guests and maybe crafts and board games, they even have football matches (our day centre is held in a college, so lots of room).
We were warned that sometimes but rarely there are angry clashes between 'guest' and the language may sometimes be a bit 'blue' but I was prepared for that so that didn't really concern me too much, as these are people that have to be rough and tough to just survive. They are not always treated kindly in their daily lives, so the pampering they get (for those who want it) is sometimes the only kindly touch they may have in a long time. It was heart warming to also to hear that for those with dogs there a special pampering centre for their furry companion to be seen by a vet and be spoilt and well fed whilst the 'guests' were in the day centres.
If anyone is interested in helping support this very worth while charity and it is worthwhile, we shouldn't have homelessness ! and like the speakers said it's not just drug addicts and alcoholics that are homeless.( which is the general assumption) but also men and women who's marriage or relationships break down, people fleeing abuse, young people leaving foster care at 18, redundancies leading to a loss of their homes is a re-occuring issue as well.
I hope I haven't sounded like i'm on my soap-box !!!! but I don't apologise for writing this post, as it's a great way to get poeple to think about the issue and maybe help in some way even if it's by donating unwanted clothes or items or giving money, or even better volunteering. I will let you know how my shifts go.
Have a lovely week
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