"Every year I have the privilege of working alongside a large team of people who give their time to volunteering at the night shelter. Some of the volunteers have been doing so for many years (more than 12 in some cases- wow!) while others are new each season. This is a part of my role that I truly love and together we support each other to get through the difficult times and celebrate the happy times. It’s a wonderful and special community to be a part of for 7 months of the year! (We obviously keep in touch the other 5 months too).
Without sounding patronising (I’m sure most of us has been a volunteer at some stage in our lives), working with our night shelter volunteers is a humbling experience and this is why;
- Volunteers are inspiring – going above and beyond to serve
- Volunteers bring a wealth of experience
- Volunteers are great people to go to for advice, sharing ideas and problem solving because they ‘get it’
- Volunteers offer compassion and empathy to our guests
- Volunteers are dedicated (especially when adversity strikes, such as the recent pandemic)
- Volunteers don’t stop when the going gets tough ( hot meals were provided every night for 10 weeks to our hostel accommodated guests during the pandemic)
- Volunteers listen to our guests, laugh with them and sometimes cry with them
- Volunteers bring a diverse range of skills and talents, and these skills can benefit our night shelter guests directly (usually quietly in the background)
- Volunteers offer us constructive ways in which to improve how the shelter runs
Each church venue is hugely resourceful and creates its own unique night in lots of different ways. Volunteers are able to chat with guests and practically helping with issues, they provide lots of games and interaction, they serve up an abundance of food (including extras to take away with them in the mornings), they can be incredibly creative with food provision to suit our guests, some leave little chocolates on pillows, some have given an abundance of socks, boxer shorts and warm clothing, others have spent time simply sitting with someone who is fearful to make them feel safe...
I could go on.
In fact, I will! One guest felt so loved when a plate of food came out for him that was totally different from the others’. He couldn’t believe that the volunteer had remembered certain foods he was unable to tolerate and had made him exactly what he said he likes!
I have heard some of the guests calling one volunteer ‘mum’ because of how she cares for them and gets some of things that they need. She is well known in Primark for bulk buying boxer shorts!
The world thrives because of the work done by volunteers and it’s never been as visible as in these challenging times.
The great thing is that volunteering benefits the volunteer too!
- It connects people together
- It is great for well-being and can make you feel better in yourself
- It gives a sense of purpose
- It's a chance to broaden skills/experience
- It builds confidence
- It creates motivation
We couldn't run the night shelter without our volunteers. Thank you to each and every one of you who has given so much this last season."