Volunteering with Hackney Night Shelter has, without a doubt, been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far.
I started volunteering 5 years ago at a time when homelessness was on the rise, so starkly that you could see clusters of tents and cardboard beds popping up more than ever on the streets of Hackney and in central London. Homelessness was also affecting people close to me. I had friends already volunteering who introduced me to the work of Hackney Winter Night Shelter – as it was then, operating during the coldest time of the year.
I was grateful to find a place where I could give service and donate my time when I felt so hopeless in the face of growing hardship and dwindling social resources. Shortly after, I became a coordinator for the Thursday Evenings at St Paul's West Hackney, where I joined a crew of committed and dynamic volunteers. Collectively, we created a wonderfully warm and social space for guests to join in the winter months.
The welcome team did an amazing job enjoying tea and lively conversations with the guests, often playing games and watching films too. We strove to ensure the food we served was of great quality and variety and that guests were comfortable.
Throughout the pandemic, and with the shift to a permanent space, I’m proud to be a part of a team that continues this work. In our volunteering, we are able to forge meaningful and compassionate, if ultimately transient connections with guests.
Contributing to my community in a tangible way is beyond fulfilling and I feel proud to be a part of this wonderful group of people who make up the Hackney Night Shelter volunteers. If you’d like to be a part of this too, please consider becoming a volunteer and/or supporting our work through a voluntary donation.