Back in March, our Boaz night shelter was awarded the Housing Justice Quality Mark (HJQM so the run up to the night shelter opening this winter was a busy time meeting with our incredible volunteers to go through some of our updated polices and processes. Creating a safe, hospitable place is important to us all. It was a great opportunity to visit each night shelter venue and came away remembering exactly why we received the HJQM for Excellent standards!
The enthusiasm of our volunteers goes beyond providing the basics (meal, bed, breakfast) to lots of little extras too. From buying hot water bottles to keep guests extra cosy, to having a local takeaway providing Turkish food twice a month to putting chocolates and herbal sleep sprays on the pillows. The kindness of our volunteers is overwhelming and reminded me of this verse because of all their great qualities; ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness’.
Our reception venue is open every evening of the week from October to April so a large team of volunteers is needed for this area of the night shelter. It amazes me how many people sign up year in year out! But inevitably, for some of our long-standing volunteers it was time to move on. This meant that volunteer recruitment was needed. So far we have thirteen new volunteers who have been through the application, induction and are now on the rota. And over the next few weeks we hope to build our total reception team to around 40 amazing volunteers just for the one venue! They do a fabulous job of offering hospitality and support when the guests first arrive. It can be a daunting time for some so having a friendly face to welcome and help them to feel safe is important.
In our first month this winter, we've already been able to welcome 19 men into the night shelter, and our daily register was full from day 3. This is really unusual- we normally don't expect to be full until at least a month into the season. We're now working with the men to try and find positive move on options for as many as possible , so that they can have somewhere more stable to stay, freeing up spaces in the shelter for others who need it.