My motivation for wanting to volunteer for a homelessness organisation in London was prompted after taking part in the Crisis at Christmas carol service in 2013 and finding out how sharply rough sleeping had risen in the capital over that past year. The figures really shocked me and I came away determined to do something proactive, to feel like I was helping in some way. After researching volunteering opportunities online, I stumbled across No Second Night Out and was immediately interested, due to the fact that they specifically work with individuals who are first-time rough sleepers in London.
Helping to secure accommodation
As an Assessment and Reconnection volunteer, my main role is support the team at the North Hub, who work 24 hours a day to secure accommodation for the people who come into the service. This largely involves assisting with casework: writing referral forms, chasing up applications or talking to clients about a specific housing offer, in order to get the right information from them to make an application. In this way, I feel like I’m making a direct contribution and helping them to move away from the difficult circumstances that have brought them to No Second Night Out, which is really rewarding.
Other tasks include sorting files and essential supplies, like the food donations that come in for the clients, or helping them out with searches for private rental properties on the communal computer. But often I’ll just sit down and having a chat. Clients have been referred to the Hub for a whole variety of different reasons and sometimes they just want to have a talk – I’ve had some brilliant conversations with some individuals, who, despite running into some bad luck, are overridingly positive about their situations and have some real stories to tell!
Working alongside an extraordinary team
Of course, one of the best things about volunteering for No Second Night Out is getting to work with the brilliant team here! They are an extraordinary bunch and have a huge amount of knowledge about the causes and effects of homelessness, and the possible solutions available. I have always felt very supported and appreciated for helping in the small way that I can and it’s been very interesting learning from them all.
To anyone considering getting involved with No Second Night Out, I would simply say, do it. I volunteer in the evenings as I have a full-time job and even if I’m tired from a day of work, I always find a new energy when I arrive at the Hub, both from the staff who are so dedicated to their roles and the clients who are engaging well with the service to secure a stable future for themselves. It’s experiences like this that makes you realise, however busy you think you are with life, there is always time to help out with projects like No Second Night Out.