I am responsible for the organisation and coordination of the Caring at Christmas project. This involves recruiting and coordinating volunteers, managing relationships with partners, and arranging the logistics of the project. There’s a lot to the project so there are never two days the same!
1) Can you tell us why you chose to work for Caring in Bristol?
I chose to work for Caring in Bristol as I’d previously volunteered with them when I
was a student at Bristol and thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, it was one of the
most rewarding parts of my undergraduate years. I love the visionary ethos of the
organisation and the incredible team that foster that atmosphere. To enjoy work I
need to believe in the positive impact of the work I’m doing and enjoy the company of
the people I work with, working at Caring in Bristol fulfil both those criteria.
2) How did the Caring at Christmas project start?
The Caring at Christmas project was the starting point for Caring in Bristol, as a
group of Julian Trust members banded together in 1987 to respond to a need in the
city for a shelter over the Christmas period. It was originally based in St Thomas’
Church and was a 24-hour shelter over five days during the festive period. Since then
the Caring at Christmas project has grown and become a critical service in the city
for that time of the year.
3) How did you hear about Caring at Christmas?
I began volunteering at the Julian Trust shelter as a student where I heard about
Caring in Bristol. I contacted director at the time, Matt Dowse, and we arranged an
informal voluntary internship at the Caring in Bristol offices. During that internship I
helped with the planning of the Caring at Christmas project, eventually volunteering
4) Why is the Caring at Christmas project so important?
The Caring at Christmas project is so important as it fills a gap in the city as other
service providers shut down over the Christmas period. It is also an important project
in the diversity of services it provides to the guests – anything from medical advice to
pet therapy. The real special part of the project is the way in which it is a community
project through to the core with over 700 volunteers and participation and
collaboration with local organisations and community leaders.
5) Why do you think Christmas is a particularly hard time for people experiencing
Christmas is an especially difficult time for a few reasons. In a very practical sense,
Christmas comes at the heart of Winter and the days are often dark and cold.
Emotionally speaking, with all the cultural tropes of family and togetherness,
Christmas can be a lonely time for those experiencing homelessness.
6) What have you enjoyed the most so far about your new role?
I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of managing such a multifaceted project and coming
to grips with all the various elements of it and the planning that goes behind each.
The role also offers the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other organisations
in Bristol, and its been a great learning experience finding out what they do and how
7) How would you describe the team at Caring in Bristol?
The defining feature of the team is their earnest commitment to what Caring in Bristol
is trying to do. It’s a very young and energetic team with a dynamic approach to the
work they do.
8) What does your average week at Caring in Bristol look like?
At the moment we are in full planning mode. A typical week consists in making sure
everything is in place for the project, preparing training materials, meeting other
organisations with the potential to collaborate, communicating with volunteers,
visiting the shelters etc.
9) What are your goals for this years Caring at Christmas?
This year we want to try and integrate a couple of new things into the project with the
aim to making the project have a more sustained impact beyond the festive period.
We are trying to develop the medical services we provide whilst introducing mental
health support and housing advice.
10) How can the public help you achieve those goals?
Firstly, by continuing the amazing support by volunteering throughout the Christmas,
without which the project simply wouldn’t exist. In the coming months we will be
launching our Christmas appeal; donating to that will help us fund these new services
and allow the project to have an impact beyond the 10 days of Christmas.
11) What would the team at Caring in Bristol like to see for Caring at Christmas in the
next few years?
We would like to use the Caring at Christmas project and the proven generosity and
kindness of the city around this time to make an impact that lasts throughout the year. We
are constantly trying to develop our projects based on the needs of those we work with and
our commitment to creating a city empowered to solve homelessness.