Five members of the North East team (Liam Boyek, Jack Graham, John Errington, Matthew Payne and Andrew Bruce) volunteered to help out at the Newcastle Crisis for Christmas warehouse, joining other volunteers at the centre. Crisis for Christmas provide support and assistance to the homeless during the run up to, and over, Christmas giving homeless people warm meals, shelter, support and companionship at Christmas to those experiencing homelessness. More than that, the impact of Crisis for Christmas lasts long after Christmas as guests are introduced to Crisis’ year-round training, education and support to leave homelessness behind for good.
The Team arrived dressed for warehouse conditions to be directed to an unused office space in the centre of Newcastle that was being used by the charity. After a quick introduction, the team were first tasked with collating four clothes rails’ of donated clothes so that these could be transported to their main drop in centre, along with the rails themselves. Further clothing donations of coats, including a number of Barbour coats, were also laid out on the floor to be transported. Whilst the office facilities were not as draughty and cold as the Team had prepared for, they were on the fourth floor and so all these clothes needed to be carried down to the waiting van. Applying our best engineering judgment it was determined that loading the lift would be the most efficient means of transporting these clothes down but this did mean that someone had to hold and operate the lift, as well as lean over the mountains of clothes to push the buttons. Matthew valiantly retained an “obstruction in the door” as the other members of the team and the other volunteers ferried the clothes to and from the lift.
After that physical exertion it was onto a less strenuous, but more stressful and creative task, of preparing bows to be placed on hampers. Various levels of crafting expertise were demonstrated by the team in this task but it was clear the most efficient method was to play to the individual strengths in the tasks of cutting ribbon, turning it into a bow and then tying it up such that it could then be tied to a hamper.
Following a quick lunch, it was time to make use of these expertly created bows (less those put to one side by our inhouse Quality Control expert) and wrap and pack the hampers that are given to the homeless over the Christmas period. These hampers are made up from donations from the public and generally contained biscuits, toiletries, ready made porridge and a piece of warm clothing. Once again a production line was set up by the team to wrap the hampers in florist’s cellophane (or cling film as it was called at one point), scrunch to tie the bows onto the hamper with any lose ends in the wrapping carefully contained with Sellotape.
Around 100 hampers were wrapped by the team during the course of the early afternoon and each of these will go to a homeless person during the Christmas period with the clothes loaded into the van being offered during the Wellbeing day held on the Monday before Christmas, where other services such as haircuts will be offered.
Much thanks must go to the team, and the other volunteers, for the effort and amount of work that was achieved in the time we were there which was very much appreciated by the charity and those who it helps.