One of the many things Angela, our busy Operations Manager, looks after is our wonderful team of volunteers. Each week, she ensures that we have enough volunteers on the rota to enable the Nightshelter to open its doors to people experiencing homelessness.
How many volunteers help at the Nightshelter?
We have just over 300 people who are signed up as volunteers. We need 38 volunteers each week just to open. At the moment that number is even higher as we are currently open for all residents 24 hours a day during the Coronavirus pandemic.
How can people get involved in volunteering at the Nightshelter?
Usually, we hold regular inductions for people who are eager to become a volunteer. Once they know more about the Nightshelter and all the different volunteering roles then they complete the DBS paperwork and we arrange a time for them to come and shadow another volunteer on shift. If they like it, then they are invited to become a volunteer and receive training on the job.
Do volunteers have to commit to a fixed number of shifts?
No, volunteers are welcome to take on as many, or as few shifts, as they can fit into their life. We understand how busy people can be and just appreciate any hours that they can give. Volunteers can book in for shifts online, they simply put their name down as and when they are available. Some people are able to help out every week but many help out every few weeks or couple of months.
What sort of tasks do the volunteers carry out?
We have lots of different volunteer roles including Evening Helper, Cook, Weekend Helper and Overnighter. Each role varies in terms of what is required, details about each role can be found here. We are also always keen to hear from people who have skills that they would like to offer which might support the Nightshelter’s work
What do you most enjoy about co-ordinating the Nightshelter volunteers?
I think for me, it is seeing the pleasure that volunteers receive by volunteering. Initially a lot of new volunteers that attend the Volunteer Induction are surprised at how homely the Nightshelter is, and that we offer far more than just a bed for the night. With this new knowledge, volunteers feel that they are contributing to breaking the cycle of homelessness and that motivates volunteers. Although volunteers are giving up their time, they are gaining far more.
What does having volunteers involve add to the Nightshelter?
Our volunteers are a vital part of the Nightshelter and we would not be able to stay open without them. Over 11,000 hours are given by volunteers each year, this saves the Nightshelter £116,190 in salaries. Staff on duty feel confident in knowing that the volunteers are there to support and assist them throughout the day and night.
What would you like to say to your volunteers this Volunteers’ Week?
A heart-felt thank you! Thank you to every single volunteer who gives up their time to help at the Nightshelter. I am truly grateful and amazed by how the Nightshelter volunteers step in and no job is too big, from collecting milk to preparing a CV with a resident, no matter what it is, you are present and engaged and play a massive role in fulfilling the Nightshelter vision.
Which volunteer roles are you looking to fill at the moment?
Right now, we are really in need of people to help out on Saturday and Sundays in the daytime. Anyone keen to find out more or able to help out can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.