Neil has volunteered at the Nightshelter for just over one year. He usually helps out once or twice a month either for an evening or overnight shift. However, during the pandemic he has helped out more to cover shifts of volunteers who need to shield at home. We caught up with him during Volunteers’ Week to learn a bit more about his experiences of volunteering at the Nightshelter.
Why did you decide to become involved in the Nightshelter?
I had known about the Nightshelter for a long time through my church. I wanted to help and volunteer, really it is an expression of my Christian faith. For me, it is about love and service to your neighbours, particularly to those who are vulnerable and existing on the margins of society.
What is your role as a volunteer?
The Nightshelter simply needs people like me to be there to keep it running. My individual contribution is nothing special, I am here just to help it function.
What is it like being an overnight volunteer?
I arrive at 9pm, there are usually some housekeeping tasks to do such as tidying up and cleaning, Then I go to bed and usually get quite a good night’s sleep. In the morning there are some tasks to do first thing, after which I either go to work or go home. It is relatively low effort but vital for the running of the Nightshelter.
Do you think the Nightshelter plays an important role in tackling homelessness?
The Nightshelter is essential. Since volunteering here I have become more aware of the range of ways that it supports people. The support it offers is tremendous – and vital.
How has it changed in lockdown?
There are fewer residents now so that they can each have their own room. The Nightshelter is open 24/7 during lockdown, and of course people are not going out nearly as much as usual. Since we’re open during the day as well as in the evenings and overnight, there is a need for extra volunteer help, and it has been good to be able to take on some additional shifts. We also need to take additional precautions to prevent infection, such as regular deep-cleaning, and as a volunteer one of my regular tasks is to assist with this.
Would you like to find out more about volunteering at the Nightshelter? You can read about the different volunteering roles at this link. Contact Angela, firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or to register your interest.