Applications are open for volunteers to sign up to help more than 3,000 homeless people for the 40th Crisis at Christmas, which runs from 23-30 December across London this year.
More than 8,000 volunteers are needed to give homeless and vulnerably housed Londoners vital warmth and companionship over the festive period.
The call for volunteers comes at a time of rising homelessness in the capital. Some 3,975 people slept rough at some point in London during 2010/11, an increase of 8% on the previous year’s total of 3,673, and a rise of more than a thousand since 2005/06.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘Crisis at Christmas has provided vital services for homeless and vulnerably housed people for 40 years. Whilst we should celebrate the lives helped and changed and the dedication of the thousands of volunteers who made this possible, it is a scandal that homelessness still exists and that we are needed at all.
‘Sadly, homelessness is on the up in London – we need people more than ever to step in to help the most vulnerable in society.’
The first Crisis at Christmas took place in St Anne’s Church, Westminster, involving just a few hundred volunteers and homeless people. In 2011 nine centres will open across the capital, catering to an estimated 3,000 homeless people.
Crisis at Christmas offers a range of services to help homeless people begin to rebuild their lives.
As well as general volunteers, the charity is calling for professional specialists to offer their services, including dentists.
Crisis asks that all volunteers commit to at least two shifts. To sign up as a volunteer visit www.crisis.org.uk or call 0300 636 1000.