By day, the Wild Goose drop-in centre is run by a few staff members and a dedicated team of volunteers. Everything is as it seems. But after dark, when the staff are safely tucked up in bed, a twilit team of volunteers take over. One hears stories about the evening shift; peculiar tales of strange goings-on. But what really happens once the sun disappears remains shrouded in mystery. We sent in Jonnie Angel, Wild Goose Manager, to investigate…
Obviously some (if not all) of this introduction has been exaggerated for comic effect. Can you tell us what this interview is actually about, DCI Angel?
I can! In December, after talking about it with Steve Smith, our Volunteer Manager, I changed my working pattern so that I could spend my evenings in the Wild Goose with the volunteer teams and duty managers.
Presumably this wasn’t actually part of an investigation. What motivated you to give up your December evenings?
Well, there’s some truth in it being investigative. More than anything, I wanted to get to know the teams. We have regular training meetings with our duty managers, so there’s some contact there – but the only contact we might have with a volunteer is if they come to our initial training evening. My purpose was to be a staff presence, and to explore how we can continue to support the evening teams and build our relationship with them, without undermining the authority that they have on an evening.
So after a month on the evening shifts, what have you uncovered, so to speak?
The fact that it was exhausting! It was a real reminder that our evening volunteers have been working during the day, and it made me incredibly grateful for how they give up their time on top of everything else.
I had a lot of feedback from volunteers saying how much they’d appreciated me making the time to be there with them, which I found very encouraging. After all, why shouldn’t I do that, when they’ve made the time to volunteer? I was also encouraged by the fact that some volunteers actually wondered why I was there, which shows how confident they are in their team and what they’re doing.
What did you find most encouraging?
I was most encouraged by the shared desire to serve that I witnessed among the volunteers. There was no sense that anyone was simply doing it out of duty. Instead, there was a real passion and willingness to serve people in their community, even in what can sometimes be adverse circumstances.
Did you make any shocking discoveries? Were there any ‘strange goings-on’?
No – I wasn’t surprised by anything. In fact, I was deeply reassured by how well everything and everyone was working. I felt really blessed, and really supported by the volunteers. (The irony being that I was supposed to be supporting them!) Now it’s up to us to work out how we can continue to get to know them and support them, and show them just how much they’re appreciated.
Are you interested in volunteering with us? You can find out more about getting involved here.