People move around a lot, so they can be really hard for the outreach team to find. With First Response acting as extra pairs of eyes, it really helps the outreach workers use their time efficiently.
I was impressed with the training you get as a volunteer. It’s not one single session and then you’re sent out to search on the streets.
It’s a series of introductory sessions, led by hugely experienced people, where you learn about mental health, drugs and alcohol, and other situations that people are in, plus there’s core training where you learn how to keep yourself safe while you’re out volunteering in the evenings.
When you head out, it’s usually close to where you live, and you’re always in contact with the outreach team if you need any advice. When you find someone, you let the outreach team know who and where.
I started volunteering with First Response in January 2019, and I’m now volunteering with the outreach team once a week as well. That makes me really understand how much of a difference the First Response volunteers make by going out and finding people.
It frees up time for outreach to have much better quality contact with each person they speak to. That’s meant we’ve been able to help people access their benefits and to engage with St Mungo’s services. It can mean the difference between someone staying on the streets or moving their life forward.
All the things I was a bit anxious about, the cold, the dark, how to speak to people, how to fit volunteering in with my café job, St Mungo’s helped me manage.
In a short space of time I’ve learnt a lot. It’s such a small price, a few hours a month, to know that you’re really doing something worthwhile. And that’s what it’s about, supporting homeless people in your own community.
Find out more about our volunteering opportunities – call us on 0203 856 6160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Response was launched in partnership with Chestertons in 2018. With First Response now in its second year, Chestertons’ continued support has been vital to helping outreach teams in central London find people who are rough sleeping faster.