Hi, my name is Christine and I am a volunteer with the Emmaus Hull Rough Sleeper Outreach Team. When my position as Local Community Partner with global graphics and pre-media company, Trident, was furloughed I soon realised that I needed to do something constructive with my time. Due to the nature of my job I knew it would involve volunteering.
There were a number of reasons why I chose Emmaus; one being to support a section of society that was most vulnerable during the pandemic, namely, rough sleepers.
From the moment I walked through the doors at the volunteer induction I knew I had made the right choice and was made to feel part of the team from my first shift.
The outreach volunteer role can involve working with rough sleepers already known to the team, whether the team is arranging temporary accommodation, filling in housing or benefit applications or simply carrying out welfare checks or providing warm clothes. It may also involve attending to reports from the general public of someone whom may be in need of assistance. That’s the interesting part as locating them it is sometimes like trying to find a needle in a haystack!
I have found my time with Emmaus outreach challenging, fun, frustrating, heart-warming, heart breaking but most of all rewarding. The pandemic has added to the challenges as it can be difficult to engage and build trust with a rough sleeper, especially if they have poor mental health, whilst wearing masks but they are essential for the safety of volunteers, staff, rough sleepers and the wider general public.
I totally underestimated how much support Emmaus provides and what is actually involved. I didn’t anticipate the extent of walking either!
I have been fortunate to volunteer with an amazing team and meet some interesting characters. What started as a need to fill my time with the expectation of only volunteering until the end of furlough, has turned into a real desire to support those wishing to rebuild their lives and take their first steps onto a new path. Since returning to work I remain an active volunteer and thoroughly enjoy every shift.