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.