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.
I truly am honoured to be a part of this foundation. Having grown up in Kingston Upon Hull and being involved in the cities Hip-Hop culture since an adolescent, I have had both the pleasure and pain of witnessing the changing seasons first hand. Following a period of particularly life changing hardship, I began learning about the complex nature of an individual’s circumstances and personal development and began offering my time to assist others in their journey through life, where I could. My initial interest has progressed to a degree level study in social work, covering topics such as psychology, sociology and law. I intend to specialise in substance misuse social work going forward as I am particularly interested in this area. Emmaus represent what I consider highly respectable principals, and as a person dedicated to assisting others, these principals are what I look for in a foundation to spend my time with. Therefore, regardless of where my path leads, I hope to continue spending time as an Outreach member of Emmaus
I had long been concerned at the apparent level of rough sleeping around the area I lived in West Hull and wanted to find out how they could be helped and how I could be a part of that. Though I was aware of Emmaus as an organisation that rough sleepers through their charity shops I didn’t know what they did and what help was available to rough sleepers.
Then Emmaus contacted my local Covid Volunteer group with an urgent call for volunteers to help find rough sleepers in Hull and East Riding. As someone who cares about passionately social justice and community spirit – that no one in society should be left behind – I jumped at the chance to apply for a volunteer role with the Outreach Team.
That was in January 2021 and after some taster sessions I’m now pleased to say I’ve been accepted as one of the Emmaus Outreach Team volunteers. The team are all fantastic and I would urge anyone out there who has some time to get involved as a volunteer. There is a vital role for the Outreach Teams in Hull and the East Riding. Each area works slightly differently due to the different models of support each Council offers.
I have much to learn about the role but am so pleased that I took the decision to respond to the call from Emmaus back in January