In 2010 I had surgery for cancer and I left work on health grounds. I had three children then 15, 13 & 5 who I wanted to spend more time with. At the end of two years of not working, I still wasn’t ready to go back into full-time work, but I wanted to do something in a caring capacity with people. I heard about the Wild Goose centre and Bristol’s Crisis Service for Women through Volunteer Bristol. So I volunteered in both places for a while. I now do four and a half days here. I’ve been volunteering here for 5 years.
I like volunteering because you can see the progress made when help is given to the clients. It’s not just about giving food, it is about giving help for all the other issues that clients struggle with. There is a holistic approach to helping each person, be it issues about DWP (Dept for Work & Pensions), housing, clothing, needing a shower….full bellies are good because it helps them think straight to work through the other issues they are going through.
I like the diversity of the clients and no two days are the same. The great thing is that it really is a two way rapport with the people that we help. I can see that they get as much out of me being here as I get from being here. I was brought up on a council estate so I know where some of the clients are coming from and that potentially we are all a stone’s throw away from suffering the same. I try to be a happy face, someone to chat to and I think that is appreciated.
There are many opportunities to volunteer with all of the projects. I can feel that the behind the scenes support enables us to be able to help the clients. I love this place. It takes me an hour and a half to get here so three hours of my day are on a bus. I do this because I love the ethos. God is doing powerful work here and that’s why I keep coming back.
Volunteering gives me a structure and purpose to my day and week. It has given me the confidence to move forward. I have proven that I can work so the next stage is for me to go and get paid work. I would say to anyone who was thinking about volunteering to just give it a try. You don’t know until you give it a go.