Meet The People Who Work And Volunteer On Christmas Day

Around 3pm on Christmas day, most of us will be stuffing our faces with turkey (or nut roast) in preparation for a telly marathon on the sofa.

Some people however, will not.

Despite what the TV ads say, a lot of people won't be having a great Christmas. In fact some maybe having the worst day of their lives.

Helping these people are Britain's volunteers and workers, who get stuck in to providing support - whether that's manual work or a friendly ear - to make the day a little more bearable.

From fun run organisers bringing the community together, to volunteers providing shelter for the homeless, we spoke to some of the people who are giving back this Christmas.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of them, and the thousands of other people who'll be making the world a better place on the 25th.

Name: Jenny Medcalf

Age: 45

Occupation: Women's Support and Outreach Worker at Spires

What will you be doing on Christmas Day?

I’ll be working at Spires - a charity in South London which offers clothing, food, showers and help to anyone who needs it.

We’re open to any vulnerable people in the area including the elderly, people suffering from addiction and those with mental health issues. A lot of the women we work with are street-based sex workers.

On Christmas Day I’m going to be cooking lunch for 100 plus people. Between 12.30pm and 3.30pm the doors are open to anybody - they’ll get a present, some companionship and hopefully some good food.

What does it mean to you to be working at Christmas?

Yes it's my job, but I work on Christmas Day to give something back. I’ve been homeless, I’ve been an addict and I’ve been a sex worker. Through losing my house I lost my children just after Christmas one year.

I know what it’s like to feel pretty shit at Christmas, so I just like to try and make someone else’s Christmas a bit better.

Name: James Kidd

Age: 25

Occupation/ volunteer position: Social Work Student at University of Manchester and ChildLine volunteer counsellor and mentor

What will you be doing on Christmas day?

I will be supporting children in the early evening by answering calls.

When I volunteered at ChildLine on Christmas Eve last year we had lots of different calls from children wanting to talk for a variety of reasons.

At Christmas time a child calls ChildLine every four minutes, so I imagine that I will be supporting lots of children while I'm there this year, too.

Christmas can be a difficult time for some children, they may be having difficulties with their family, they may have lost family members or they may not have anyone to turn to.

It’s an important time to support children as many of them can feel very alone.

Why do you volunteer at Christmas?

Christmas is a time to support people. I know some children struggle at this time of year. They may be facing bullying, abuse, neglect and many other issues.

I volunteer at ChildLine every week and feel it's important to keep my commitment to the service even at Christmas. It's rewarding to feel that I may have made a difference.

Name: Claire Nash

Age: 23

Occupation: Nurse

What will you be doing on Christmas day?

I will be working a night shift on Christmas Day on a cancer ward with adult patients. My shift pattern is 7pm till 7.30am.

Christmas is very busy as any patients that can go home will be discharged and the rest of the patients need ongoing treatment such as intense chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and general management of their conditions along with any emergency admissions.

What does it mean to you to be working at Christmas?

When I came into nursing I always knew my shift pattern would be unsociable. I work hard for my patients and it's a sacrifice you make as a nurse.

I admire my patients' bravery and it's inspiring to work with so closely with them at their most vulnerable.

Name: Kevin Moss

Age: 52

Occupation/ volunteer position:: Broker consultant and volunteer at The Chocolate Run

What will you be doing on Christmas Day?

This will be my 15th year volunteering at The Chocolate Run - a temporary home for the homeless in Harlow, Essex. I usually get to the centre at about 7.30am to start the morning shift.

First we do the checks, finding out who is there and what needs to be done.

It can be quite a dangerous place at times because anyone can walk in un-vetted. I have met murderers, sex offenders, armed robbers and many others over the years. The vast majority have multiple convictions and suffer from some form of mental illness or addiction.

We provide food, accommodation and clothes. As the morning progresses jobs need to be done like cleaning toilets, cooking and folding clothes. Some visitors (90% are men) want to talk, others want to be left alone.

There is definitely some good Christmas spirit present but inevitably there will be arguments as emotions are running high.

Why do you volunteer on Christmas Day?

I needed to focus on something following my divorce back in 2000 and discover people who had far greater problems than I had at that time.

These days, I think 'how I could forgive myself should someone die and I had not been there?' Lives have literally been saved at the center in the past.

At the end of my shifts over the festive period I feel a mixture of satisfaction and relief that something major hasn't happened while I'm in charge.

Volunteering at somewhere like The Chocolate Run is not for the faint-hearted, but it's for those that truly want to re-discover what the Christmas story is trying to teach us.

Name: Emma Louise Steer

Age: 29

Occupation: Carer at Belmont View, Quantum Care

What will you be doing on Christmas Day?

This will be my first year working at Belmont on Christmas Day and my shift will run from 3pm to 10pm.

Most of our residents are elderly and many have dementia. We have a lot of family visiting on Christmas Day and some of the residents go home for the holidays. But for those who do not have any family, they have us.

We’ll be fulfilling all our usual responsibilities as carers but also trying to make it a special day for the residents.

Someone dresses up as Santa and the residents all unwrap presents that have been bought by their key workers together in the lounge area.

We're going to bring round a drinks trolley, have a Christmas carol sing along and maybe watch a Christmas film together.

What does it mean to you to be working at Christmas?

I’m really excited about working on Christmas. As a carer you spend so much time with the residents the rest of the year and do a lot for them, so you establish a real bond with the individuals.

I’m looking forward to seeing the residents happy and excited about everything we have planned.

Name: Mags Mathieson

Age: 53

Occupation/ volunteer position:: Parkrun race director and Volunteer Join In Local leader.

What will you be doing on Christmas Day?

As a Join In Local Leader, I'm part of a network of volunteers that help to promote community sport. I will be organising a special Christmas Day parkrun on Christmas morning.

I will be at the Waterworks park in Belfast from 8am to get everything ready - this involves setting equipment out, doing a course inspection to ensure it's safe, briefing the volunteers, greeting the runners and getting the run underway at 9.30am.

I bake festive shortbread to go with the mulled wine that we offer to runners at the end, as well as tea, coffee and mince pies.

Why do you volunteer on Christmas day?

This will be the fifth year that I have volunteered at parkrun on Christmas Day - at the first one in 2010 we had just 39 runners and last year we had 235.

There is nothing better I could think of doing on Christmas morning - unfortunately I can no longer run due to injury, but it gives me great pleasure to help organise events such as this so that other people can.

Giving Back To The Community