Hi, my name is Stephen and I am a volunteer with Hackney Winter Night Shelter. I was introduced to HWNS more than a decade ago now and have been volunteering ever since.
Living and working in London, homelessness is a problem you see everywhere; it’s true of many towns and cities across the UK. And the pandemic will only make the problem worse. Volunteering with HWNS has given me the opportunity to play a small part in the huge task of eradicating homelessness from the UK.
As a volunteer, you are part of a great team of people with a real mix of skills and interests and a passion for making a difference. I knew from my first day, helping to set up beds at the shelter and welcoming guests with a cup of tea, I was volunteering with an amazing team.
I’m now in a wonderful evening team with Matt and Lesley. We are responsible for running the shelter and making sure it’s a welcoming place to be. We are the main points of contact and support for the guests as well as being there to serve dinner. It’s a responsible role but the shelter is such a positive place we can have a laugh on the way.
We are fortunate to be supported by some very fine local businesses and people. Throughout the pandemic, it has been a real pleasure picking up complementary pizzas for the shelter from Voodoo Rays or unveiling the fine dining delights that head chef Linda Galloway of Daffodil Soup has prepared for us (the sticky toffee pudding is legendary).
One of the great things about HWNS is that you know, that in the background, the advocate workers are working hard with all the guests to help find them permanent accommodation. This is often the first step in turning people’s lives around. Guests with HWNS are not just getting a secure and comfortable place to stay, there are people dedicated to trying to help guests get back on their feet or in some cases, rebuild their lives.
I’ve learnt over the years how simple it can be for people to fall into the trap of homelessness, and how difficult it can be to get lives back on track. Volunteering with HWNS, you get a chance to make a small difference and be part of a team that are transforming lives in Hackney and beyond. I encourage you to get involved!
Stephen - pictured above (left) with Lesley and Matt