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Posts Tagged ‘volunteering’

The Participants from the 2010 Event

This Year’s Sponsored Sleep-Out will take place on the night of September 29th.  The idea is to take on a challenge that is worthy of people sponsoring you, with the added bonus that it is related to what Simon on the Streets does.  Our aim is also to offer an insight into our work and the challenges our service users face.

If you are interested in joining us please email us at admin@simononthestreets.co.uk  We are just putting the final touches to this year’s event; in the mean time please see what we did last year:

10pm              Meet the team and register

10:30pm         “Walk of Awareness” a short walk led by some people who have personal experience of rough sleeping

11:15pm         Arrive at the sleep site for hot soup and a roll

12pm              How to build your bed demo

12:15pm         Bed down for the night

7am                Hot sandwiches for breakfast

I hope you can join us.

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The first time I got involved with Simon on the Streets as a volunteer it transformed my life. Let me try and tell you why.

Nothing can prepare you for your first experience with Simon on the Streets. Mine being the moment when we turned the corner in the Soup Van to see 40-50 people waiting with hunger and anticipation. I was immediately given the job of handing out the blankets and although closely watched by my new colleagues I was left to settle in on my own with my new job.

As I watched around me, I noticed two things; firstly that the practical needs were being delivered to those in need; food, blankets, the finest tea inLeeds. Additionally, I saw emotional support being provided by a formidable group of people. These volunteers and full time workers, from all different backgrounds and experiences were giving up the most precious thing they had. Their time.

As my own experience developed, I realised how special these people are and how good it felt being part of their team. Later, as I met more volunteers who provide different services to the homeless and rootless people ofLeeds, I understood that they knew different people to me and that the network of support extended far beyond the provision of the Soup Van. They offered a listening ear and a helping hand everyday and every night to those people who, for whatever reason were not receiving support from the recognised support agencies.

As well as providing support to the most vulnerable people in Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford, the friendships and support that exists within Simon on the Streets creates an environment of understanding, commitment, loyalty and trust.

The bond that is created between the volunteers and the fulltime workers is something I have not experienced before. Not only is there an abundance of fun, banter and humor, there is an atmosphere that takes you away from life’s challenges and gives you a sense of purpose and belonging surrounded by thoughtfulness and caring.  Everybody is there to listen, not to pry or judge, just to be there when you need to share.

Now in my eight year as a volunteer, I find myself sharing with others the joy of being a volunteer with Simon on the Streets. People can hear how excited and passionate I am about our organisation. However, the way to truly appreciate it is to be part of an amazing team and have their “first moment”. From that point on, they will be part of a unique group of people. It may also transform your life!

Ian, Volunteer

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Another film from Simon on the Streets

Support the work of Simon on the Streets

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Catherine is a part time volunteer with Simon on the Streets.  She takes part in the weekly soup run and also gets involved in some street outreach work.  As a student who had moved to Leeds she first got involved with Simon because she had some spare time that she really wanted to put to good use.  Her initial contact revealed that the Community is not an organisation that views people who are homeless as passive beings in an active world who need to have things done for them.  The fact that Simon want to support people to do things for themselves is precisely what drew Catherine to us.

So why does she do it?  To begin with it was simply the idea of wanting to support improvements in the lives of people with many complex needs.  As time went on, although this would always be at the heart of why she volunteers, Catherine realised there were many different reasons to continue.  “I enjoy the challenge of engaging with a client group that can be very difficult to work with” – this can range from trying to get a very quiet and depressed man who refuses to engage with anyone to simply share a few words in conversation as a very gentle beginning to an engagement process, to seeing behind the loud aggressive shouting and swearing of a very angry woman and getting to the root of the behaviour.

“It is also hugely satisfying to work in an organisation that is well respected; and not just by other agencies but also by the people who really matter – our service users!  We strive to ensure that the person is put before the ‘piece of work’.  Service users understand we see them and then their issues and not a set of problems that needs to be solved.  Our method always allows the person to drive the work and decide on what is to be done, our role is to offer support in this”.

Part of Catherine’s interest in volunteering was to see if it was a field of work that she wanted to get into.  Her time with the Community has helped her decide that it is.  One of the reasons for this is, “the people we support are such fantastic individuals with great stories to tell who are often, once you get to know them, very good company.”

Catherine has now made the move forward and is soon to start working full time in a related field.  “if you’re interested in this type of work as a career it’s great.  All the time you’re volunteering you are gaining the training, knowledge, skills and experience that you need!”

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