My week: Andrew Meyer

The Crisis Open Christmas services manager feels his stress levels rising as D-Day nears.

Andrew Meyer
Andrew Meyer

Monday: Things are particularly hectic this week. We are two weeks away from opening our doors to about 2,000 of London's homeless, to whom we will offer food, temporary lodging, showers, haircuts, healthcare, optometry and counselling from 23 to 30 December.

I have a meeting with the services coordinator, who is processing volunteer applications. Specialist services, such as healthcare, are limited by the number of specialist volunteers who come forward. My worry is that, if there is a shortfall, these vital services will have to be cut.

Tuesday: Finding space for guests has been a challenge this year, but today I visit a new centre with environmental health officers, who have to be happy with the installation of kitchens on our premises. We serve more than 37,000 meals during the campaign, so fingers crossed.

Wednesday: Adding to my stress levels is the fact that we do not have all our centres confirmed. I am trying to draw up a draft master roster - the document that all our services will rely on to dictate exactly what is going on where and how - and it needs to be drawn up soon.

Crisis Open Christmas will need 7,000 volunteers to run effectively this year. Attracting enough general volunteers hasn't been a problem, but we still need another 1,500 specialist volunteers, which is a bit worrying, to say the least. I have a meeting with our communications team to discuss getting an appeal in some specialist publications because we're still so short of doctors, hairdressers and optometrists. If we don't get enough, we will be forced to offer a limited service.

Despite the current shortfall, we have many volunteers who keep coming back, such as Mike, who's been volunteering for Crisis Open Christmas for a staggering 29 years. He even met his future wife during one Crisis Open Christmas campaign.

Thursday: Our dentistry equipment needs to be checked and certified. Many guests don't get dental care all year, so being able to access services like this is an important part of the campaign. A lot of our work over the Christmas week is also about trying to get people access to year-round services.

Saturday: I am overseeing a consultant who is training volunteers who need food hygiene certificates to handle food for our guests. There's an enormous amount of red tape to wade through to put on this campaign. I really feel I've earned my Sunday rest.

- Crisis Open Christmas offers specialist services to the homeless at the charity's several centres over the holiday season.

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