When is the Caring at Christmas application deadline?

Caring at Christmas will always try and accommodate everyone’s choices and applications. The guideline for new volunteers is that, once the last training session has past (usually the Saturday a week before we open – 18th Dec approx), it is too late to volunteer as sufficient induction training will not have been carried out. Previous experienced volunteers may apply after this date all the way up to the day of opening (although this is not preferred). This will also be at the applicant’s own risk of the shifts all being full.

Why doesn’t your left over food donations go to the Julian Trust after Christmas?

We would like to clarify that The Julian Trust are the first people we offer our left over food donations to, including fresh produce straight after we close, and then the dry goods are co-ordinated throughout the following months. We also give donations to the Wild Goose Café, The Matthew Tree project, The Salvation Army and the Bristol Soup Run, to name but a few. To sum up, all the donations you make go to homeless people directly and anything we have left over we distribute to organisations directly in touch with feeding and looking after the homeless throughout the year.

Why don’t we email more correspondence to save on postage?

Caring at Christmas is going to do this more; we need to save money in the current financial climate. We have had problems in the past with email systems not working and reaching everyone, but with expert help we hope to cut our postage costs by at least a third. If you would like to be on the email preferred list please contact us. We are also putting our newsletter information online at least for our mid-year newsletter to save costs.

I’d like to volunteer before Christmas?

Well, there are events we need help with (please see volunteer section of the website). We do need administrative help from September to December, but we need committed people that are willing to carry out even mundane tasks and also we need at least a one day per week consistency for those months. It’s very important to have a few committed volunteers in the office.

Why are volunteers spending too much time talking to guests when there are practical cleaning duties to be done?

This one is very retrospective, as volunteers all have different gifts. We are all different members with different functions; some volunteers are more comfortable with the practical tasks and that is fine, and some volunteers are invaluable at associating with the guests, which is also fine. Some of our guests will have been ignored, spat at and abused in the street; spending time with the guests is a massive part of the work we do here. Please do not worry about volunteer roles, if jobs need to be done, supervisors will allocate appropriately.

There were too many people on my shift and I was bored/there were not enough people on my shift

The reason there may be a lot of people on your shift is that, as organisers of a huge project that relies on a reasonable number of volunteers to be present to operate, we have to over allocate on shifts to allow for illness and general “no shows”. Even though we always over allocate we still have the problem of cancellations particularly after Christmas and towards new year. We always over allocate just like the other shifts but we still can have further poor attendance. We have an emergency list of volunteers so if the supervisor feels that the shift doesn’t have enough volunteers to operate they can call these people to come in last minute.

I’d like to volunteer at the night shelter, how can I help?

You can volunteer year round with the Julian trust by emailing helpdesk@juliantrust.org.uk.

Is there a way to make reference checking easier?

All “new” volunteers or anyone who hasn’t volunteered for the past 3 years need to be reference checked. These need to be 2 written references due to our insurance stipulations. Please make this easier for us by supplying correct and complete address, telephone and email address details of your references and please make sure they know to expect to hear from us to make the process easier.

The Saturday training group size is too large

We will be discussing this in full and try to find a solution to this. It is difficult as the majority of people do opt for the Saturday full day training, but to make the volunteer training less crowded we would like to ask experienced volunteers opting to come as a refresher rather than a new volunteer – please come on the Thursday training session and allow the new volunteers to have full training on the Saturday. We are also going to have the kitchen training returned to refresher course every 3 years so only new volunteers need to attend kitchen training from 2013 onward.