Volunteering in emergency accommodation during the Covid-19 pandemic

    Stuart describes his rewarding experience of volunteering with people housed in emergency hotel accommodation during the pandemic.

    Having previously spent close to 15 years working overseas with British health NGOs and the United Nations in critical emergency situations, I never could have envisaged the situation that would unfold in the UK just over one year ago as the pandemic took hold. Those working conditions with which I had become familiar elsewhere were now a part of UK daily life: vulnerable communities, breakdowns in supply chains, restrictions on movements and personal freedoms coupled with national uncertainty, fear, and anxiety.

    At the onset of the pandemic, a call went out from the British Red Cross with whom I have been involved for the last two years, seeking volunteers to assist St Mungo’s with the Everyone In response that was accommodating rough sleepers across a number of hotels in London. Having had a long-term interest in the issue and causes of homelessness dating back to my time at university, I was keen to sign up!

    My role supporting the team and vulnerable people

    Those first few visits to the Limehouse hotel, where up to 150 people were being accommodated and supported by Mungo’s, were quite surreal. Travelling in an empty carriage on the DLR through a deserted Canary Wharf is something that will stay with me for a long time and certainly brought home the deadly threat facing the country.

    Working conditions too were adapted to this new environment with personal protective equipment now a requirement. Whereas in my previous working life, PPE had consisted of the need for 12kg body armour in Gaza, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, this time around it took the form of masks, gloves and gowns as well as the need for two metre spacing and the constant wiping down of public surfaces. I initially found masks to be quite an intrusive barrier to communications with clients and colleagues however, as always, one adapts.

    Since starting at Limehouse towards the end of April 2020, I have also worked at a hotel in Leyton and most recently Greenwich. This has typically involved one full day a week or more recently two half- day shifts. The work is predictable but essential! As a result of Covid-19 requirements, communal indoors eating is obviously no longer possible. My principle role along with those of the other volunteers is very much focussed on the provision of the daily meals which involves going from room-to- room three times daily and providing pre-prepared food to the clients.

    Outside of the food runs, the main task is to act as an interface with the clients for basic requests, so that the St Mungo’s team can be left to get on with the all-important casework. Everyone In has provided St Mungo’s with a great opportunity to get clients’ lives back on track, whether this is through the ability to look at longer-term housing options as well as connecting with health and dental services and the benefits system and Home Office. The presence of volunteers in the hotels allows the full-time staff the time to focus on sustainable solutions for the individual clients.

    There have been so many highlights of this experience in the last year. Where do I start? Arriving on a shift to learn that one of the clients that you have been supporting for a number of months has found a place to live. Being part of a team of dedicated volunteers and staff seeking to – and succeeding in – making tangible improvements to the life quality of some of the more marginal and vulnerable individuals within our communities. The surprise of learning that I had been nominated by my peers for the Marsh Award!

    Find out more about volunteering at St Mungo’s here.

    Volunteering to inspire people creatively

    In this blog, our award-winning volunteer, Emma discusses her role as a Creative Writing Facilitator for the St Mungo’s Recovery College and why she recommends volunteering to everyone.

    A bit about me…

    I am a creative writing facilitator for St Mungo’s Recovery College, which I’ve been doing for two and a half years. Before lockdown I facilitated a two-hour session in London every week, then after the first lockdown hit we converted that to an online session twice a week for about three months, and now once a week, on Tuesdays from 11am to1.15pm

    How did I start volunteering?

    Long story! I went to university as an adult and gained a creative writing degree. When I graduated, I started volunteering facilitating creative writing workshops for charities including the 999 Club in Deptford and Salvation Army. Then I worked in a prison full time. My job at the prison had nothing to do with creative writing and my mental health suffered as a result. I had to get back to doing what I was good at, and what I enjoyed. A friend of mine had done some volunteering at the St Mungo’s Recovery College (now the Digital Recovery College) and recommended it. He introduced me so that I could begin to get back on track.

    Every week is different.

    I don’t follow a specific curriculum, I offer prompts to inspire writing. It could be music, stories, items, images – because we’re online at the moment students are able to collect items from their own space to write about which is great. I simply concentrate on providing a safe, nurturing space for students to express themselves freely.

    I don’t call myself a tutor as I don’t believe creative writing can be taught. I call myself a facilitator; I provide students with the space to express the voice that belongs to them – you can’t ‘teach’ that.

    Students sign up for the class at the start of term (the Recovery College usually has four terms a year) but then numbers will vary week to week. Last year we had 11-14 people attending on average, sometimes up to 20. Recently we’ve been starting our sessions with a dance which has brought a lot of joy and positive energy. We also do occasional meditations, which again is a benefit of being online. I wouldn’t suggest this in person because some students may not feel comfortable closing their eyes in public. Many students have expressed how much they enjoy meditating together.

    The rewards are indescribable.

    We’re so much more than just a writing class – we are a gathering of beautiful human beings. I wouldn’t name it a therapeutic or wellbeing workshop, but there is that essence to it because we are coming together and communicating from our hearts and souls.

    The students give me so much; their ability to show up, their vulnerability, their bravery, how truthful they are in their writing. And I have the privilege of hearing all their voices!

    To anyone thinking about volunteering, I’d say, ‘go for it’, you have nothing to lose. Be open. It’s not just about what you give… you get back what you give ten-fold.

    Find out more about volunteering at St Mungo’s here.

    My journey from volunteer to project worker at St Mungo’s

    Lianne started volunteering for St Mungo’s back in 2019 and is now a full time project worker at our Mental Health service in Camden. Here, she shares her rewarding journey of working with people experiencing homelessness.

    My journey with St Mungo’s started in October 2019 when I was volunteering in two places. My first ‘gig’ was an outreach role that specialised in communicating with a man in Vietnamese who was homeless in Central London but couldn’t speak English. This gave me a taste of outreach work. I would speak to him once a month to check in with him, we would go out when it was cold at night to see if he wanted any food, drink or support, but he never wanted our help. Instead, we spoke in our home language (when he felt like it) and he seemed to enjoy the company. This was my first time doing charity work and it felt good to give something back.

    My second volunteering role was at the St Mungo’s service, No Second Night Out (NSNO) in Hackney. I did this once a week in the evening after work. I really loved doing this as I was able to use my IT, communication and interpersonal skills to help St Mungo’s clients and staff within the service. My typical volunteering evening went pretty quickly as I was able to help out my colleagues with client work and speak to people at the service and help sort out any queries or problems they had. My colleagues were a great support and fantastic to work with, so much so that I left my job back then and applied to become a locum at St Mungo’s!

    I gained a lot of insights into the lives of people who are experiencing homeless and the additional support they need. It made me really appreciative and grateful for all that I had; a warm house, good food and great company. There were times when a client’s behaviour became challenging but it only proved how important it was to be adaptable in how I supported the client. I was able to see how happy a client was when I spent some time with them in the service, or even just supporting them to the local job centre.

    The move into employment with St Mungo’s was a thorough and long process, but I was really motivated to become a locum and start working more with the NSNO hub. I’d like to thank my Deputy Manager, Sophie and the team in supporting me throughout the process and welcoming me to the team.  Being a locum was a great experience and it has given me a lot of flexibility, finding a shift pattern that worked for me. In April last year, I moved into the North Camden Mental Health services and worked as a Locum Mental Health Project Worker. I gained more insight into clients with complex needs and who are in high supported accommodation. I found it challenging and rewarding when I was able to support clients moving onto their own independent accommodation. Six months on, I am now a permanent Project Worker.

    I’ve come a long way in just over a year and don’t regret a single thing. I have loved working with different colleagues, teams and clients who have been friendly and kind to me along the way.  My advice to someone who wants to dip their toes into St Mungo’s would be to go for it. There is always room for growth, progression and training with the support of colleagues and managers. St Mungo’s is a fantastic place to work and you’re never in for a boring day.

    Find out more about volunteering with St Mungo’s here and our current volunteering opportunities here.

    Experience of volunteering at St Mungo’s during the pandemic

    We recently celebrated our Heroes of the Pandemic Volunteer Awards, which recognised the hard work and dedication of our wonderful volunteers over the last year.

    In this blog, one of our award winners, Sara Ramos Pinto discusses her role with Mulberry House in Bath, the impact it has had and how she has had to adapt in response to COVID-19.

    Role and why to volunteer

    I volunteer with Mulberry House (a supported housing service for people living with and recovering from mental health issues) as a walking group facilitator.

    On the walks, we literally just walk and talk. We talk about anything and everything, and along the way we’ve got to know each other more. Sometimes we share worries, sometimes we share goals or interests and sometimes we don’t share at all – sometimes people don’t want to talk and that’s okay too.

    I decided to volunteer with St Mungo’s because I am a strong believer in community and now that I had settled in Bath I wanted to actively participate in the community of Bath. I am also acutely aware that we all have a tendency to live in our own bubbles, only spending time with people who are similar to us. I looked around me and realised everyone was a university lecturer (like me!), and I thought there’s something not right about this. I wanted to burst that bubble and have contact with new people who had different experiences, different backgrounds and different lives.

    I reached out to a friend who worked at Mulberry house and she told me about the volunteer opportunity, which thankfully worked out!

    The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on volunteering

    When lockdown first hit, we weren’t able to meet up due to the restrictions, so during these times I have kept in contact with everyone in the house over email instead, sharing pictures and challenges to keep us going.

    When we have been able meet up, for example during the summer, everyone was really excited and we had even more people involved in the walks than usual. Everyone has been indoors and more isolated than usual, so walking in a group and enjoying the astonishing nature of Bath was exactly what we all needed and a rare moment of normality!

    Sadly, due to the latest lockdown, our walks had been on hold again, but now that we are easing out of this we’ve been able to start them up again and enjoy the spring! The next step would be to organise a longer walk, maybe doing the skyline walk, or a longer walk with a picnic in the middle.

    Highlights of volunteering during a challenging year

    During one walk, a client expressed hopelessness about their prospects of getting employment due to them having dyslexia. The client was new to the group, so I decided to take the opportunity to disclose that I also had moderate dyslexia. The client was really taken aback as he couldn’t believe that I, as an academic, had dyslexia! He had lots of questions and we talked openly about it, breaking down the assumptions and misconceptions. It was truly special!

    The impact of volunteering

    I think through sharing information about our lives, we have made connections which has helped people to feel safe and open up. As a result, I have seen the group grow in confidence. For some, this has meant talking more on walks, whilst others have even started volunteering themselves and considering further education options.

    The staff at Mulberry House say that the walks are doing a ‘world of good’ and are a ‘lifeline to clients’ but I often think it has benefited me more than them!

    I’ve learnt and shared so much and it’s helped me to put my own life in perspective. When you are in your own bubble, sometimes things that aren’t that significant can seem really big and important. But when you hear about other people’s experiences and establish a connection with that person, you start to realise what really matters. In addition to now knowing a lot more about plants, animals, the city of Goa in India or the new lingo of generation Z, this experience has only reinforced my belief in community and how important it is to have connections with people who have different life experiences to you.

    Find out more about volunteering with St Mungo’s here and our current volunteering opportunities here.

    Corporate volunteering with Fieldfisher

    This #VolunteersWeek, Millie Hawes from Fieldfisher shares how their teams have been getting stuck in and volunteering with St Mungo’s, and what getting involved has meant to them. 

    The St Mungo’s and Fieldfisher partnership is like no other. St Mungo’s has gone above and beyond in giving our people the chance to get involved in every aspect of their work, allowing us to get a genuine insight into their community.

    Corporate volunteering is at the heart of our partnership. Fieldfisher’s staff were excited that not only could they get stuck into wild and wonderful fundraising activities, but they could also engage directly with St Mungo’s clients. Our IT team was especially keen to leverage their skills to support people in their recovery from homelessness. They designed a bespoke web development course for the Recovery College and helped to upskill those ambitious clients looking to one day set up their own business. The team are now working on developing a more holistic IT and soft skills training course that will be delivered remotely in this new post-Covid-19 world. This project has enabled Fieldfisher teams to develop their skills personally and professionally while offering an invaluable opportunity to increase the employability of St Mungo’s clients.

    Volunteering doesn’t have to fit in a neat box; it complements fundraising and awareness-raising beautifully. For World Homelessness Day in October, and to mark the 50th Anniversary of St Mungo’s, 50 Fieldfisher employees donned the eye-catching orange t-shirts for the day and walked the streets of London raising money and awareness for St Mungo’s (those t-shirts really are hard to miss), and referring any rough sleepers they saw via StreetLink. This was the perfect catalyst to inspire people to do more. Motivated by the people they met and stories they heard, teams signed up to prepare Christmas meals and create decorations at some of St Mungo’s services, one department put on a rugby event with a few familiar faces (spot who you recognise below), and others started doing weekly lunch-time runs around London so they could chat with rough sleepers they came across.

    What’s next? I hear you ask. The world around us may be changing, but we are prioritising creativity in finding new ways of doing things. Remote digital inclusion workshops being the obvious next step. We are also all too aware of some of the housing and social welfare legal challenges facing people experiencing homelessness so we are launching a project to empower St Mungo’s staff to help clients have their rights realised.

    Ultimately, our passion to support St Mungo’s and their clients continues to grow. Volunteering isn’t just a ‘nice thing to do’, it has given us a chance to develop and share our own skills, to think creatively, to take initiative, and to take responsibility for helping to change lives. There’s so much on offer so, what’s stopping you? Get stuck into the community!

    Volunteers are an integral part of St Mungo’s and we recognise and value the huge contribution they make, there are many ways to get involved.

    How to keep your New Year’s resolution

    New Year’s resolutions are easy to make, but often difficult to keep. In this blog, our Head of Volunteering, Iver Morgan, reflects on the challenges and rewards that volunteering at St Mungo’s can bring and highlights the difference you could make to the lives of people experiencing homelessness this year.

    It’s that time of year where many of us are making New Year’s resolutions, some of which will be easier to keep than others. For a lot of people that may be learning to do something new or giving something back.

    At the end of 2018, I was reflecting on just that – how much our volunteers give, the skills they bring with them and the new ones they learn. They make a real difference, on a daily basis, to the lives of people experiencing homelessness. All of our volunteers, whatever their role and whether they have just joined us or are one of our long standing volunteers, play an important role in the fight to end homelessness.

    Through donating their time, skills and experience – and doing so in a compassionate and sensitive way – volunteers help demonstrate to our clients that they are not alone, that there is a future away from homelessness and that they can rebuild their lives.

    Volunteering at St Mungo’s can be challenging, it’s often complex and each day is never the same, but our volunteers always tell us how rewarding they find it. We know their role makes a huge difference to our clients – helping to reduce isolation, while increasing their confidence and helping them to learn new skills.

    But don’t take my word for it. Hannah is part of First Response – our innovative new scheme for volunteers to help our Outreach teams find people who are sleeping rough. Here’s what she says about her role:

    “I started volunteering with St Mungo’s because I wanted to use some of my spare time to get involved in my community and make a difference to people’s lives. Through First Response, I can see the direct impact that volunteers have, supporting outreach teams and helping to reduce the devastating levels of homelessness across London. It’s an issue that’s really important to me, so having the opportunity to work with other people who feel passionate about reducing homelessness through volunteering at St Mungo’s is a real privilege.”

    So if you’re thinking about how to keep your new year’s resolutions, why not have a look at volunteering with us. Be that holder of hope for people that are struggling to see it themselves.

    We have a variety of volunteering opportunities available across London and the South of England. Volunteering with us, will give you the opportunity to use your time and skills to make a difference to the lives of people experiencing homelessness.

    Find out more about volunteering at St Mungo’s and view our current volunteering vacancies.

    Thanks to our award-winning volunteers

    Iver Morgan, our Head of Volunteering, Apprenticeships and Placements, thanks our amazing and dedicated volunteers as Volunteers’ Week 2018 comes to a close.

    On Monday I had the great pleasure of hosting our annual Volunteering Awards celebration in Southwark.

    This is a wonderful occasion when we get to say thank you and present awards to some of our outstanding volunteers who’ve supported our clients and our work over the past 12 months – and in many cases, much longer. Once again, we held this at the Table Café, who generously support us in many ways throughout the year.

    One award recipient was Jen Burnham, who’s helped us publish our Homeless Diamonds magazine for 20 years. I encourage you to read her blog about how she got started and what she enjoys about it – a great read.

    I’d also like to thank the Marsh Christian Trust, who enabled us to present these awards for the last four years. We very much appreciate their support.

    Over an average year around 900 people volunteer with us. They provide support to outreach services, helping people sleeping rough, run activity groups and offer information and advice. This makes it very difficult to pick out individuals.

    However, alongside Jen, we thought this year that awards should go to Mohammed, Adil, Tee, Juliet and Rebecca.

    Volunteers of the Year went to Mohammed and Adil. They volunteer with the Horn of Africa Health and Wellbeing Project in London, which was set up in 2013 to respond to the needs of individuals from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan who had been affected by homelessness. The project is funded by Big Lottery Fund, through the Reaching Communities funding stream, and provides advice on entitlements, access to physical and mental health services, work and learning opportunities, community activities and support to overcome isolation. Mohammed and Adil had both previously approached the project for support when they found themselves homeless as a result of being recognised as a refugee and wanted to give something back. This is a fantastic achievement.

    Outstanding Achievement (London) went to Tee. She is a volunteer with the Women’s Group of our client body, Outside In, and facilitates creative and therapeutic sessions each month with women across St Mungo’s services. She is also a Client Advisory Board Member and meets with the Board of Trustees every six weeks to work on the strategic aims of the organisation and ensure the client voice is heard at the top level of governance. Tee draws on her own experiences and uses this as her motivation. Tee spoke in Parliament recently on behalf of St Mungo’s at an event led by SafeLives, a charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse.

    We were also pleased to recognise volunteers who work with us in the south west of England.

    Volunteer of the Year (south west) is Juliet. She volunteers with the Bristol Assertive Contact and Engagement (ACE) service, where she is an invaluable asset to the service, thanks to her unwavering commitment, enthusiasm and energy. She volunteers with the Women’s Morning wellbeing support group, the Breathing Space group, which provides mental health support for single parents in Knowle West and the LGBTQ+ group, One World. The team says “she goes above and beyond what is expected of her by stepping in and helping whenever she is needed”.

    Outstanding Achievement (south west) went to Rebecca. She now volunteers as a Peer Mentor at Mulberry House and Mews in Bath but since completing Peer Mentor training, she has offered a different form of arts or crafts each week. This has engaged clients and enabled them to try a range of new things. She is now able to offer one-to-one support to clients both at Mulberry and in the local community.

    Volunteers are an integral part of St Mungo’s and we recognise and value the huge contribution they make. In return, we aim to offer a rewarding experience by providing opportunities to make a significant contribution to help end homelessness, to develop skills in a supportive environment, access training and meet like-minded people.

    If you’ve been inspired, please do take a look at our Volunteering opportunities. We look forward to hearing from you.

    Twenty vibrant years at St Mungo’s

    Jen, St Mungo's Creative Arts Volunteer

    “The enjoyment of it has kept me going for 20 years. It’s a great pleasure. It’s all the people that I meet and talk to, and the work that I see.”

    As we celebrate Volunteers’ Week, Jen Burnham, St Mungo’s Creative Arts Volunteer, tells us about what she’s learned through volunteering.

    I’ve been a volunteer at St Mungo’s for 20 years. I was one of the first volunteers on a programme called ‘Make It Work’ which I think was the beginning of a formal volunteering programme at St Mungo’s. Now I understand it has something like 900 volunteers a year!

    I’m almost 75 years old now. I’ve always had an interest in art but I never did much with it. In 1998, I was at a dead end in my life and I decided to do some art-related volunteering, including an art group at St Mungo’s in Argyle Street, King’s Cross. I was made very welcome there.

    A few years later a member of St Mungo’s literacy team produced a booklet of poems by Argyle Street residents and asked if we had some artwork that could be included. The resulting booklet was much admired and one resident Joe asked, ‘why don’t we do this on a regular basis?’ That was the beginning of Homeless Diamonds magazine. It started as a photocopied A5 booklet for art and writing from the King’s Cross area; it’s now a glossy A4 magazine for all of St Mungo’s and a bit beyond (thanks to support from Regional Director David Devoy, who from the start has supported the project).

    We produce three editions of Homeless Diamonds per year, each containing the work submitted since the previous issue – no more and no less. Everyone who submits will have something printed. On the suggestion of contributors we have recently set themes for particular editions, but always maintain this submission policy.

    Producing Homeless Diamonds is a big, varied job; the hardest (and most rewarding) bit is gaining contacts with residents throughout St Mungo’s and encouraging them to contribute. We are very lucky to have our volunteer designer, Gasan, who has designed most of our editions. When all is gathered, typed, corrected, photographed and laid out for the printers we can look forward to celebrating with a little launch party; then the task is to get our 350 copies distributed, to all the contributors and to as many residents of St Mungo’s as we can,

    It’s clear that contributors value the magazine, and that it gives them a great boost to see their work printed in a quality publication. It’s a wonderful way to communicate across boundaries, at a more personal level.

    The enjoyment of it has kept me going for 20 years. It’s nice to see contributors as they progress in various ways (including working at St Mungo’s) – many have told us how much their engagement with the magazine has helped them. There is a huge pool of experience, and talent, at St Mungo’s, a resource of great value to society.

    Volunteering has helped me a lot. I had lost confidence in myself when I started, and it gave me an experience of being valued that I really needed. And I stumbled upon such interesting people, such remarkable characters! So the feeling was mutual!

    I hope Homeless Diamonds will continue, perhaps as part of St Mungo’s Recovery College, when I get too dotty to carry on.

    If you have some spare time and would like to make a difference to someone who is experiencing homelessness or a decline in mental health please visit St Mungo’s current volunteering opportunities. You can also email: VolunteerServices@mungos.org or call 020 3856 6160 for more information.

     

    Why I volunteer at the 365 shelter

    The third contactless donation station in Bristol launched last week at Bristol Energy. It’s a quick and easy way for people to donate £2 direct to the four city night shelters.

    Since the original launch in May for the two stations in Broadmead Shopping Quarter they have taken approximately £3,000.

    The night shelters are free for the people who use them but St Mungo’s and the other charities we work with rely on fundraising and donations to keep them open.

    Heather Lister volunteers at the 365 night shelter. She tells us why and what it is like to offer support to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

    ‘I really enjoy working at the 365 shelter’

    I volunteer at the 365 shelter with my husband, Richard, once a fortnight. The shelter is in a Quaker Meeting House, and can accommodate 15 homeless people overnight. Two volunteers attend each night, with experienced members of staff on call.

    Why do I volunteer? We all see daily evidence of suffering, need, misfortune and injustice – I want to do my bit to try to make things better. It’s hard to ignore; misfortune and homelessness can affect anybody. Recently one of my sons became homeless when a long-term relationship broke down. Luckily, he could rely on family support – many cannot.

    I don’t think there are any special qualities that volunteers need, other than being happy to listen to troubles and triumphs, and having a conviction that this support is worthwhile – it is appreciated and it works.

    I really enjoy working at the 365 shelter. I don’t believe hardship and poverty improve anyone’s character or mental health – people may not be responsible for their situation, but they can still feel deep shame and become angry and depressed.

    But often we see the best of people – keeping their spirits up, being kind and hopeful, showing courage. I think we as volunteers can help people sustain this by being respectful and encouraging towards them.
    I can do little to change guests’ circumstances, but maybe I can play a small part in helping them endure and respond positively to help. So it’s enough that they appear pleased to see me, enjoy talking to me, and leave the shelter after a good night’s sleep with a smile and a lighter step.

    ‘What we do’

    Richard and I arrive at about 9.45pm to get things ready before guests arrive at 10.30pm. The first thing we do is check supplies (tea, coffee and sugar) and look through the hand-over book, where everyone who attends each night is recorded. We check whether there are any likely problems or considerations – we may be asked to give a guest a message or remind them of an appointment. Guests are referred by St Mungo’s, and we are given a list of people to expect. St Mungo’s tell us of any special medical conditions or needs people might have.

    Each guest is supplied with a camp bed and a plastic box with a sheet, duvet and pillow. When the guests arrive they find their boxes, set up their beds and have a welcoming cup of tea and a chat. First-timers are asked to sign an agreement comprising a few simple rules, and we help them settle in and see how things work. Guests are asked to arrive by 11.15pm. Many are exhausted, and all seem happy to get their heads down by about midnight. We provide ear-plugs (for the snoring!) Richard and I doze off on sofas just outside the “dormitory.”

    ‘People coming to the 365 shelter are diverse’

    People usually start stirring at about 6.30am. At 6.45am gentle prompting such as drawing back curtains gets everyone else moving. There’s another cup of tea or coffee, and off they go with our good wishes. Showers are available at The Compass Centre however, Bristol Quakers plan to build showers and laundry facilities at the Meeting House, which are much needed.

    People coming to the 365 shelter are diverse – in age, background and circumstances. Not all are without jobs – we’ve known some to get up well before 6.30am to travel to work. Some move on from the shelter quite quickly, being already on their way to getting their own accommodation. All are engaging with services. A camp-bed in a dormitory isn’t ideal, but it’s a warm, safe place to stay, and hopefully prevents many people in temporary difficulty from becoming stuck in a harsh, dangerous lifestyle in which it is easy to lose hope.

    Ours is a simple provision. We’ve thought of organising evening meals, but this would need more volunteers to do an evening shift, and there are other places providing free food in Bristol.

    If you would like to volunteer at any of the four city night shelters please contact the following people:

    St Mungo’s night assessment shelter: Sommer.Rouse@mungos.org

    Julian Trust night shelter: volunteers@juliantrust.org.uk

    Caring in Bristol 365 shelter: Alex.wallace@caringinbristol.org.uk

    Spring of Hope women’s night shelter: val@crisis-centre.org.uk

    You can also make an online donation via the SOSBristol fundsurfer page.

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