A team from Berkeley Foundation and Berkeley Commercial had the opportunity to volunteer with one of the Foundation's Strategic Partners, Crisis, at its Bermondsey warehouse in October. Ten volunteers offered their time to help prepare the warehouse for the busy Christmas period ahead, when Crisis will again organise its annual Crisis at Christmas project.
We were hosted by team leader Richard Davies from Crisis, who talked us through the work that was needed to allow Crisis to deliver services to guests during the busy Christmas period. The warehouse space will act as a hub for Crisis at Christmas centres across London. Once in operation, it will receive deliveries including hundreds of Christmas turkeys and thousands of sprouts, as well as supplies and clothing destined for Crisis at Christmas guests.
The team split up into groups and undertook a variety of tasks; the morning consisted of cleaning and clearing the warehouse space in preparation for receiving donated items, and problem-solving to find solutions to challenges such as the supply of electricity. After a well-deserved tea break, we split up into teams again and started preparing moving furniture into the warehouse and completing a stock inventory.
The day finished with Richard showing us some images of the Crisis warehouse in operation during Christmas 2018, when over 3,600 guests accessed services. This really gave us an insight into how volunteers like ourselves can contribute and make a difference around this difficult time of year.
Crisis plays a crucial role in providing immediate help for homeless people during the winter period. Each year the Christmas project requires warehouses like the Bermondsey one to receive donated goods and to act as an operational hub for the Christmas event. Making sure the warehouse is ready to run smoothly and efficiently to take in and distribute these donations requires a true collective effort from both staff and volunteers.
During this year's Christmas period, a total of 9 centres across London will be opening its doors from Monday 23 December 2019 to Friday 3 January 2020, offering a wide variety of vital services, activities and meals. To make sure the centres can provide for all guests, Crisis will need just under 13,000 volunteers across the UK.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank both Crisis and Richard for allowing the Berkeley team to provide an extra pair of hands! Hopefully with the charity's on-going support from staff and volunteers over the Christmas period and throughout the year, we can help to continue to improve the lives of homeless people in London and across the UK.
Eleanor Fitton, Planning Graduate, Berkeley Strategic