"I get a great sense of purpose from volunteering and I think I get a huge amount more out of it than I put in."
I got to know about Crisis Centre Ministries through my church, Wrington Chapel. We support an additional charity each month, and it’s my job to contact the charity that we’ve chosen and send off the donation cheque. One particular month, a neighbour had recommended CCM, so I looked up their website to get the contact details. I found myself really intrigued by the range of support that CCM offers to people who find themselves homeless, hungry and often battling with addiction. It struck a chord, and I wanted to get involved.
When I came to chat to Steve, the Volunteer Coordinator, I’d thought I would probably get involved in the kitchen, preparing or serving food. But then I found out that support was needed in CCM’s engagement work, and that appealed to me more.
I help clients in different ways. For instance, if people need to contact local services, communication can be a huge barrier if English isn’t their first language. On one occasion a Portuguese lady told me that her medical certificate had expired and that her surgery had contacted her to tell her that she needed to reregister with a GP closer to where she lived. She didn’t know how to go about doing that and, without a current medical certificate, her sickness benefit would cease. This was a real concern, as she was suffering from numerous health issues. So I helped her search for the surgeries near to her and made an appointment at the nearest one. She then knew that all she had to do was turn up for the appointment, and that they’d fill out the paperwork when she got there. On another day I helped her reword her CV, highlighting her strengths and qualities that would be useful in a job application once she was well enough to seek work.
Very often my work involves simply being present. In the morning, I go around clearing the tables of dirty cups and plates, which brings me up close to the clients and gives me the opportunity to ask them how they are doing. When I first started, I thought that I wouldn’t know how to engage with people, but it’s nothing like as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s usually easy to tell who feels like chatting and sharing their problems and the conversation then flows naturally.
One experience that sticks out in my mind was when I went with Esther to visit a client at his home. She was concerned that he hadn’t shown up at the centre for some time and she knew his health was poor. Esther had been supporting him in the long process of finding accommodation that was more suited to his poor mobility issues; his current place was detrimental to his health. His face lit up when he recognised Esther, with the realisation that he hadn’t been forgotten. He was really happy that we had taken the time to visit him. He’s now coming back in a lot more and engaging with others, clients and volunteers.
I get a great sense of purpose from volunteering and I think I get a huge amount more out of it than I put in. It’s always exciting here as no two days are the same. There is such a huge amount of need and it’s a privilege to be a part of meeting that, even in a tiny way. Spending time sorting and folding the clothes that are donated is very satisfying and seeking out particular clothes that a client needs is great because you know it will make such a difference to them. As a volunteer it is so easy to do.
It’s also wonderful to be part of the team of volunteers for that day, to hear volunteer and staff stories. It’s wonderful to be a part of this work.
Are you interested in volunteering with us? You can find out more about getting involved here.