The main point of volunteering for Crisis at Christmas is to ease the pain of being homeless at this time of the year. But it also gives 11,000 people the chance to get to know each other without any of the baggage we bring to our normal social interaction.
On Friday night, I spent time with a business woman with a strong moral compass and a great sense of humour. I first noticed this when a gentleman we were watching asleep let out the loudest fart I have ever heard. She burst out laughing and from that moment I knew we were going to get along!
On Christmas Day , I was paired with another business woman. Every task we were given to do , she not only took in her stride – but took over. The lady’s shower and toilets were renovated, gaps were managed and she brought such an energy to everything she did that energised not just our guests but those around us.
I saw in the humour, the energy and the compassion of these two ladies, what I admire in business people. Neither was involved in financial services, one was involved in dredging and the other in high fashion. I don’t know how you dredge with social purpose or how you dress Maria Carey with a conscience but that is not the point.
When you have a clear understanding of what is good, then you deliver good things. You may make more money in the short term with a business plan that is grounded in self-interest. But the long term value of a business has to be measured in the good it does, with good being measured in absolute terms. I firmly believe that our county’s economic performance is linked to its sense of purpose. If that purpose is re-focussed by our leaving the union, then Brexit will be a success.
Similarly, it business people, like the two ladies I’ve mentioned, and me, can find a new purpose from working in Crisis, then the dredging , fashion and pension businesses we run , will prosper anew. I carry the memories of these two meetings but even more, I carry memories of meeting several vulnerable, kind and brave homeless people (one of whom I wrote of yesterday).
My minister, Lesley Griffiths, pointed out in his sermon last week that Jesus was born homeless. I am so happy to be able to clean the showers so that these people can get clean, I am so looking forward to my next trip to Bermondsey so I can watch over the restless sleep and I so want to be inspired by more volunteers, energised by this fantastic organisation “Crisis at Christmas”.
All that I admire in the human condition is contained within the walls (and at the gate) of the site. While I type, shifts will be handing over and weary souls will be making their ways back home after 10 hours of service. If people want to see the future of British (post Brexit) business, they can contemplate this amazing enterprise and the people who for the past three decades have made it prosper and brought such relief.
Crisis at Christmas – all that I admire.