Make a difference by Caring at Christmas 

Interested in Christmas volunteering?  To begin creating an application, or to access an existing one follow this link:

Our annual project, Caring at Christmas provides 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 30 years and has helped 1000s of guests over that time. In 2016 the project welcomed around 250 guests each day, providing 60 beds and serving 2,900 hot meals over 9 days (plus 3,000 sandwiches!). This was made possible by up to 1000 local people volunteering their time, and donating clothing, food and money.

Volunteers can choose to be ‘guest-facing’, where they spend time with people staying at the shelter, chatting, playing board games, helping with laundry and providing support. Volunteers can also choose to be ‘non-guest-facing’ where they can help 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 be able to continue providing an outstanding service for the guests, we rely on financial donations from companies, organisations and the public. For 2016 we asked for cash donations rather than food or clothing.  

Ed Reed, Caring in Bristol Shelters 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.”

Here are some examples of how your donation helps us:

  • £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.