Make a difference by Caring at Christmas 

rsz_2-caring-at-christmas_72dpiOur Caring at Christmas project is now closed.

In 2016 We launched our annual project Caring at Christmas providing warm safe accommodation, food and social activities to homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol between 3pm on 24th December and 10am on 1st January. Caring at Christmas has been running for 29 years and has helped 1000s of guests over that period. Last year the project welcomed around 250 guests each day, providing 70 beds and serving 4,581 hot meals over 11 days. This was made possible by up to 1000 people from all over the South West of England volunteering their time, and donating clothing, food and funds.

Volunteers can choose to be ‘guest-facing’, where they interact with the people staying at the shelter, and do things like chat, play board games, help with the laundry and provide some support. There is also a ‘non-guest-facing’ option for volunteers helping in the kitchen or with other duties. Volunteers come from all across the UK, including Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, Swindon, Reading, Taunton, London, Cardiff and even

from as far as Edinburgh – the further afield volunteers have usually come to visit friends or relatives in the South West for Christmas.

To carry on providing an outstanding service for the guests, we also rely on financial donations from companies, organisations and the public. For 2016 we are asking for cash donations rather than food or clothing.  

Ed Reed, Caring in Bristol Project Lead explains that; “This year we’ve asked for more financial donations – this is because of what has happened in previous years – which is that a lot of people donate what they think homeless people might need, but that often results in us receiving a mountain of soap or socks, or inappropriate hats. So if we can get financial donations instead, we can buy the exact things people need, be that high quality thermal underwear, particular food stuffs or professional support. Every penny raised goes on directly helping the homeless and vulnerable people in the Bristol area. If people would like to make clothes donations instead, we are directing them to The Salvation Army, so that we have maximum room at the shelter for guests.”

Phil Summerhayes, Caring at Christmas Head Chef added; “It’s my 11th year with Caring at Christmas – it’s my favourite time of the year and it’s unlike anything else I have ever done. Planning three hot meals a day for 250 people, all with different needs, can be really tricky if you’re relying on getting the right food donations. So if people can spare a financial donation instead, it means I can organise the kitchen properly, plan ahead with the menu and buy exactly what we need at exactly the time we need it.”

 Some Caring at Christmas financial stats and facts include:

  • £5 pays for a wash kit for one of our guests
  • £10 provides breakfast for 12 people – we make approx. 1,000 breakfasts
  • £10 pays for us to train one of our Caring at Christmas volunteers
  • £20 provides six Christmas dinners – we make approx. 250 Christmas dinners in total
  • £30 pays for 30 sets of washing and drying to be done
  • £30 pays for a fully waterproof jacket and trousers for a guest
  • £40 provides one guest with a warm bed for the night
  • £50 provides 15 Christmas dinners
  • £100 provides Spaghetti Bolognese for 100 guests
  • We cook for 250 people every day
  • We cook over 4,000 hot meals in total
  • And make 5,000 sandwiches.