Pop star Ellie Goulding has again rolled up her sleeves to help those sleeping rough at Christmas, serving lunch and speaking with homeless people at a London shelter.
In a woollen beanie resembling a plum pudding, Goulding volunteered on Sunday at a temporary shelter at a Chalk Farm school, where hundreds will spend the Christmas period.
The singer has volunteered for homeless charity Crisis for a number of years, saying she likes to “take some time out” to help those in need and to put things in perspective.
“It’s so important at Christmas, I like to show up, serve some tea or just have a chat with people and help out,” she said, adding she will return on Monday.
“You hear lots of stories, some very sad. Some like to talk about why they ended up where they did, or talk about their families.
“Because all of these people have had a life.”
Goulding said she had always felt for homeless people since she was a girl and now wants to make the most of her position to help, having also performed charity concerts.
“I’d always ask my mum why that person was homeless, living in the street, carrying all their belongings on their back,” she said.
“It’s just something I’ve never been able to shake off. So I do what I can now.”
She brought plates of roast beef with mash potatoes to the guests, who have access to showers, dental care, hairdressers and bedding at the transformed school.
But just as crucially there are volunteer advisers on mental health issues, documentation and employment.
Crisis will operate 15 similar shelters across the UK this Christmas, housing about 4000 people over the coming weeks while some other volunteer shelters take a short break.
It comes at a much-needed time as homelessness is at record levels in the UK, according to a Crisis study released on Sunday.
More than 170,000 families and individuals experienced destitution in 2017, the study found, with the scale of homelessness 13% greater than 2012.
Among them was Roland Le, 31, who has been homeless for about three years and said winters were particularly tough.
“I’ve spent a few winters outside and, well, it’s quite hard,” he said.
“But you can manage to survive, obviously. It’s just very unpleasant.
“All day you spend outside in the cold. Your hands hurt and your feet are cold.”
Originally from Hungary, Mr Le came to London to live in Camden Town, saying he chose the area partially because he used to be a “punk”.
He has had jobs over the years but said it does not take much for someone on a low wage and without family or money fallbacks to end up “outside”.
“The working class people, they’ve got such small salaries, and most of their salary is going to the rent,” he said.
“If something happens, like an illness, or mental illness, or some trauma happens, then it’s very easy to leave yourself and to not care about things. And you just find yourself, you know, outside.”
Mr Le said he had mental trauma from his childhood and slipped through the cracks as he tried to “numb himself”.
He said the biggest challenge for homeless people is not finding work or a roof over their head but having the support around and the state of mind to maintain them.
“They can maintain their job for a while. But you know their core problem is not solved,” he said.
“Most of the time it’s some sort of mental illness, which just pushes them back to square one.”