Joy Archer, Education, Training and Employment Coordinator at Forward Leeds was busy over Christmas. She volunteered with Crisis a national charity that works to support people out of homelessness for good.

Crisis at Christmas gives homeless people good food, friendly company, healthcare and clean clothes – and is a vital first step towards leaving homelessness for good.

Below is Joy’s story in her own words

“I volunteered to work with Crisis at Christmas in Birmingham last year and was accepted for a specialist role as they were looking for volunteers who were confident in speaking in front of large groups of people. I shall be returning this year as it was such an interesting and satisfying experience.

“The Christmas day event takes place in a primary school – Year 3 left Christmas cards for the people who accessed the service, and during the day those people made thank you cards at the craft tables.

“A range of activities was on offer to the homeless and the vulnerably housed and I discovered volunteers came from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life.

“Volunteers signed up for different roles: general volunteering, transport to bring people to the centre and take them home, food preparation, supervising activities such as crafts, creative writing, music workshops, first aid, raffles, and in my case, running the quiz and bingo activity.

“Explaining a line and a full house to people from different countries who have never encountered bingo before is a challenge!

“In between I served meals and simply chatted and made myself available for anyone who wanted someone to talk to.

“It’s hard work – you’re on your feet all day and your shift isn’t over until you’ve finished taking down all the decorations and cleaning up.

“You are expected to be active, observe appropriate boundaries, use your initiative and not wait to be told what to do.

“The reward comes in mixing with fantastic people all day, knowing you did something worthwhile and for me – being invited back.”

For more information visit the Crisis at Christmas website.

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