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21 Dec 2015

TJ’s December Blog

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Last month I arrived at the front doors of the No Second Night Out assessment hub in West London. I was let in by one of the friendly staff and ushered through to a large assessment room waiting area, where people were dotted all around, some resting and others walking around, drinking tea, chatting and laughing. Along the way a few clients smiled at me and said hello, making me feel immediately comfortable in this new and foreign environment.

I’ve been volunteering here ever since and it’s this same warm reception every time I arrive. It’s definitely not as simple as saying every client is happy and carefree, but there is a genuine sense that the majority are grateful and appreciative for the help that’s being extended, when often none is given.

What is No Second Night Out?

No Second Night Out works in a different way to most other homeless services in that it isn’t an accommodation service. What they offer is a middle ground between living on the streets and finding accommodation, instead of the unfortunate alternative – sleeping rough whilst outreach workers or social services try to push the process along, which can sometimes take months.

Whilst using the service, you get the opportunity to have a roof over your head, a place to shower and eat (food is generously donated by Pret A Manger), and some friendly faces to greet you, whilst the dedicated  NSNO staff work tirelessly to get you back on your feet.

The assessment and reconnection workers have really inspired me. It’s a flat-out, 24-hour operation, with people coming and going constantly, and the staff do an excellent job in juggling all of their clients and helping everyone with their cases, regardless of what their situation might be.

Taking the time to talk

I work for a few hours on Saturdays and try to muck in wherever I can. This can involve clearing up the communal spaces, washing towels, forwarding on clients’ post, helping with welfare checks for those who have moved on, letting people in and out of the building, and perhaps most importantly, chatting with the residents. After all, these are people who are sadly used to being ignored, and simply taking the time to talk with them can make the biggest difference in their outlook.

In the process of doing this I’ve got to know some really interesting people from all walks of life who through a wide range of circumstances, have found themselves in some pretty harrowing situations. But through the help of No Second Night Out, they have also found themselves back on the right path.

Why not try volunteering in 2016?

I’m only contributing in a small way by volunteering, but even this leaves me with a great feeling at the end of each shift, in the knowledge that I’ve been a part of a positive cause. Most of us have full time jobs and other commitments in life, but if you’ve ever considered volunteering then I’d really recommend you give it a go, because it’s always possible to make the time. You’ll be glad you did.

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