15 August, 2005

Crisis open Christmas

When crisis first started it was just to give hot food and blankets on Christmas day. Since then things have changed and now crisis runs several shelters. One for women and two quiet shelters and one main shelter and one shelter for drinkers. Of course they need someone to organize and run things over the Christmas period. The man in charge this year is Mick Bateman. I asked him what coc was now all about? "On one level crisis open Christmas is about giving people a rest from the street and giving them access to medical facilities along with other things like clothing, housing advice, hairdressing" he said as he sat back in his chair thinking of answers. "It's a place where they can come have meet old friends and make new ones and most of all it's somewhere they can feel safe." I then asked why a drinkers shelter his reply was that "drinkers are people who have a problem and we don't see any reason not to treat them the same as anyone else that comes to our shelters. Some drinkers would find it hard to stop drinking for seven days and may become ill. So we have a drinkers shelter to accommodate these people." I asked why are you giving learning and skills? "We are trying to empower single homeless people to make choices on what they can do in life. If after trying out our learning and skills classes they want to do more then they can. It's just a way of getting homeless people involved and you are proof that it does work." How do you run everything for the seven days? "Well, we have volunteers that come from all over the country and give up their Christmas to work in our shelters. We wouldn't be able to do the things we do without them." How do you get all the things you need like premises food and clothing? " It's all donated by various businesses, either by direct donations of food and clothing or donations of money. The premises we use are usually got at the last minute and are donated rent free. Do you expect a fairly quiet Christmas as the government say the number of homeless is falling? As this is my first one and from what I have seen, I don't think so.

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