These are the people who are working this Christmas Day

Spare a thought for the dedicated 3.3 per cent who will head off to work on Christmas Day to protect, help and deliver to communities

Sunday 25 December 2016 15:14
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This Christmas, the London Fire Service and Co-op are joining forces to cook Christmas dinner for the local community
This Christmas, the London Fire Service and Co-op are joining forces to cook Christmas dinner for the local community

In 2014, as many as 3.3 per cent of employees worked on Christmas Day, according to the Office for National Statistics – equating to around 1.04 million people slaving away on the national holiday.

22,000 members of the clergy will be heading to work, and 26 per cent of midwives, 18 per cent of police officers and 97,000 nurses will join them, as well as service staff, hotel workers, cleaners, taxi drivers and, yes, even journalists.

In light of this, we have compiled the experiences of those who work on Christmas Day, to provide an insight into how people balance festivities with saving people’s lives, running the country and operating a lifeboat…

Doctors

I have been qualified for nine years and in all that time I have only ever had one Christmas Day or night off. Labour ward is a 24/7 service so Christmas Day is like any other day except we might wear a Santa hat!

This year I'm working nights over the Christmas weekend – I start at 8.30pm on the 23rd, working 13 hour shifts until the 26th at 8.30am. So my Christmas will be spent on the shop floor with my colleagues on the labour ward looking after women during labour, delivering babies and caring for them after delivery as well.

It's a joyful time on the labour ward at any time of the year, but on Christmas Day it can feel a bit more special. The hospital often makes a fuss of the Christmas newborns.

I will spend Christmas Day itself asleep as I will be working the night shift - but will probably have some leftovers from Christmas dinner before I go to work.
​Reena Aggarwal is a registrar in obstetrics and gynaecology

Prime Minister Theresa May

Downing Street divulged that in addition to her official duties, this Christmas the Prime Minister will spend the day as she has for most of the last 20 years, starting with a quick drink with friends in her local village before joining the churches in her Maidenhead constituency, who lay on lunch and entertainment for older residents who would otherwise be on their own.

As the official residence and the office of the British Prime Minister, Downing Street remains operational throughout the year – including over Christmas and New Year. That means, of course, that the people who work there remain on duty too.

Lifeboats

Unlike the many volunteers on call from home, four lifeboat stations will be maintaining full-time cover over the festive period, including Tower Lifeboat Station situated on the Thames in Central London. This is the busiest station, launching on average 530 times a year to help those in need. With a launch time of just 90 seconds, it is imperative the crew maintain their 12-hour shift pattern to meet this demand.

This Christmas, full-time Helm Jai Gudgion and volunteers Helen Church and Winni Jarvis will be on shift. This is Helen and Winni’s second Christmas Day together.

“The crew at Tower are like my second family,” says Helen. "Coming from an emergency service background, I understand the commitment required to maintain a 24/7 operational service and Christmas Day is no exception. We are looking forward to cooking a full Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts before heading home to our families in the evening."

This year the crew will be having a Christmas jumper competition with photos being posted on social media for followers to share in their Christmas spirit.
You can follow the team on twitter at @TowerRNLI

Foster carers

Martin Barrow is a foster carer for groups of siblings, and does not view his role as "work". You can read his experience of being a permanently on-duty foster carer at Christmas, caring for three traumatised young girls this year, here.

The fire service

In London, five fire stations are joining forces with the Co-op and Healthy London Partnership to bring together lonely and vulnerable people who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. Firefighters will be cooking the food provided by the Co-op stores. Volunteers from both the Brigade and Co-op will also be helping to cook and will take over if the crews, who will also be on duty, are called out to an emergency.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said: “Our Christmas cook-up is about much more than turkey and all the trimmings; it’s about building a lasting relationship with our most vulnerable residents and opening up our stations and services to the communities we serve.

“The role of a firefighter is no longer just about putting fires out, it’s about stopping them from happening in the first place. Just over half of people who died in accidental fires in London last year were receiving care services and often simple measures like fire retardant bedding or a smoke alarm would have saved their life. Firefighters across London are working hard to reduce the risks for those who are most vulnerable.”

Diners will be given a Christmas hamper which will include a smoke alarm, a carbon monoxide alarm, and a commitment to deliver a follow-up home fire safety visit at a later date.

The clergy

Father John Ryder says: "Growing up in a Christian home I have always done some work on Christmas Day, helping at church and providing with my family a Christmas dinner for those on their own.

"Now as someone who leads Christian worship, work – if that is what you call it – has become the main focus of my Christmas Day. It is also a joy and a privilege; but to keep up the enthusiasm for hour after hour over four churches is work. With the travelling involved I always pray there will not be a white Christmas!

"The Christian (and Jewish) day runs from sunset to sunset, so my Christmas Day work starts on Christmas Eve with a Crib Service, ostensibly for children. This is followed by a Mass at 8pm for those who cannot manage a later service, then Midnight Mass, a sleep that seems too short, and two family-centred Eucharists on Christmas Morning, each in its own way offering an opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ, and get a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas to take into daily life.

"A few hours at home, then at sunset a walk to the Village Church (left open for visitors) for a final check-over and lock up."
Father John Ryder is the Vicar of Godshill, Isle of White

Journalists

Finally, even journalists have to make their appearances on Christmas Day - including the Independent Voices team who are bringing you this festive article. Merry Christmas!

London Ambulance Service, the Metropolitan and North East Police and the Samaritans were all contacted for inclusion but found themselves too busy to provide copy in time. However, all confirmed they have people working on Christmas Day

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