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Working with the Homeless

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Working With The Homeless Voluntary Work

We’re all very familiar with seeing homeless people on the streets of our cities and towns. Some of us might feel sympathy with them and offer them some loose change or even buy them a hot drink or meal but the reality is that the majority of us will simply walk on by without so much as a thought or a second glance. We all tend to take the fact that we have sufficient food to eat and a warm safe bed in which to sleep very much for granted.

However if you’ve ever sat down and thought about what it is REALLY like to be homeless – it is quite a scary proposition and it could happen to any one of us. There are many ways you can volunteer to help with the homeless and to give your time and effort to this cause can be very rewarding for both the volunteer and the homeless person alike.

Helping out at a Shelter

There are many types of different shelter where you can volunteer your services. There are those for the elderly, battered women, drug addicts, children and single mothers – all of which are crying out for volunteers to help them. You might be signing in new residents, helping with counselling the homeless, assisting with providing the homeless with information on how and where to get aid from the likes of social services, for example.

Within these shelters will be a variety of people. There may be those who have become ‘institutionalised’ to living on the streets and simply may want to stop by for a few hours to get warm or to get a hot meal and others who might be ‘resident’ and using the shelter as a stepping stone on the way to achieving a place of their own and becoming more self-sufficient. These places can often bring both volunteers and the homeless very close together spiritually in our understanding of the basic human needs of warmth, food and shelter.

Working in a Soup Kitchen

These provide one of the basic necessities of survival in providing food and drink for the homeless and others who may be disadvantaged and heavily rely on volunteers to help with preparing meals, picking up the food from suppliers, serving the food and cleaning up afterwards.

Using your Work Skills and Hobbies

Voluntary work with the homeless need not just be about ensuring that they have the basic sustenance to survive and it involves far much more than simply keeping them alive. Every one of us will have a skill gained through work or a hobby that can help the homeless. Doctors, dentists and other medical staff, for example, can help treat the homeless in clinics and lawyers will be able to help with any legal matters the homeless person might be experiencing.

You may have a skill gained through a hobby like photography, for example, and in some cases, not only might that inspire a homeless person to want to learn more, it can often kick start them into believing more in their own skills and there are many success stories of homeless people who have gone on to forge successful careers as a result of being inspired by a volunteer in this kind of way. So, teachers as well can play a part in this in their spare time.

Supporting Independence

There will be those who have finally broken free of the ‘homeless’ tag and may have found independent accommodation of their own. And, whilst this is a positive step on their long road to independence, they might need help with simple tasks such as learning how to balance a budget or help with paying household bills, or helping organise washing, cleaning, shopping and cooking duties for them until they can do it for themselves so there are plenty of opportunities to help people in their own homes too as well as in shelters.

Escorting on Trips

A number of charities will often lay on transport to take the homeless on a day out to relieve them of the pressures of their predicaments for a while. You may wish to volunteer your services as a driver or an escort to help them on their day out.

The Importance of Showing Respect

The only way that you can successfully help the homeless is to show them the same degree of respect that you would show to anybody. Each and every one of us has talent and skills and a homeless person’s skills might simply be lying untapped through years of neglect, abuse or illness. By supporting them in the right way, you can help to build up their trust and confidence and help to bring their talents to the fore, which can be very rewarding indeed for you as a volunteer.

Organisations to Contact

To find out more information about ways you can work with the homeless, contact organisations like Shelter, Crisis, Centrepoint, Hope Worldwide, Emmaus, the Depaul Trust and there are many others too which you’ll find on the internet.

Does your Organisation Help the Homeless?

If you run a charity or non-profit organisation that helps with the homeless and you are looking for volunteers, please email us with your details (the email address is on the contact us page). We are often asked for information relating to certain areas of the UK in our comments section especially by those who want to volunteer at Christmas time, so we will be happy to include your details in our responses.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
My daughter has had an idea that we ask people to donate hats, gloves, scarves, toiletries etc then go and give them out over the winter period. Is this a good way of helping??
Aj - 15-Oct-17 @ 8:49 PM
I would like to volunteer for homeless people on Christmas day in the Bury St Edmunds area, I've never done this before and I'd like help where to start. It's also something I would like to do on a regular basis. Thank you CJ
CJ - 11-Oct-17 @ 11:19 PM
Hi i want to be able to help at a soup kitchen all year round. would really like for someone to contact me to let me know if i can help. i havea basic food hygiene certificate, as wll as first aid, manal handeling and health and safty. i also hold a personal and driving licesnce. many thanks
Fiona - 10-Oct-17 @ 10:07 PM
Hi. I'm looking to volunteer in a soup kitchen on Christmas Eve and or Christmas day. I've been trudging through all volunteer and charities sites.. but keep going round in circles. Looking to help in Wiltshire,Salisbury, Swindon, Bath. Can anyone help me ? :) Thanks in advance.
Pixie - 10-Oct-17 @ 5:33 PM
JadeFlack - Your Question:
Hi thereI’m looking at volunteering over Christmas in the basildon/Essex area. Can you put me in contact with somebody?

Our Response:
Try the following organisations:
Volunteer Essex
SAVs - Southend Association of Voluntary Services
HARPS- Southend Homeless Society (Homeless Action Resource Project
Samaritans Southend on Sea
VoluntaryWorker - 4-Oct-17 @ 11:01 AM
Hi there I’m looking at volunteering over Christmas in the basildon/Essex area. Can you put me in contact with somebody?
JadeFlack - 2-Oct-17 @ 7:23 PM
Ash - Your Question:
Hi im interested in volunteering in birmingham city centre, working with the homeless

Our Response:
Here are some organisations to try:
Birmingham City Mission
West Midlands Shelter
Sifa fireside
VoluntaryWorker - 2-Oct-17 @ 10:59 AM
Hi im interested in volunteering in birmingham city centre, working with the homeless
Ash - 28-Sep-17 @ 11:21 PM
I was wondering if there are any soup kitchens in Sunderland or Newcastle where I could volunteer? Thanks
Elle - 23-Sep-17 @ 6:37 PM
We provide support to homeless people who are in danger every £9 that you spend in the cracket wood shop provides one nights accommodation for someone without a home, we try our best to give everyone a good night sleep we are hoping that you can help us to get that a meal at least once a week or even better a Christmas dinner??
Jo - 19-Sep-17 @ 1:51 PM
Pat - Your Question:
I wonder if there are any homeless centres or soup kitchens in need of volunteers in Caerphilly. I would like to help locally with the basics, providing support and sharing my hobbies. I could do few hours a week Mon-Fri.

Our Response:
You could try:
Caerphilly Rough Sleepers
Llamau
Caerphilly Mind
VoluntaryWorker - 19-Sep-17 @ 12:11 PM
I wonder if there are any homeless centres or soup kitchens in need of volunteers in Caerphilly. I would like to help locally with the basics, providing support and sharing my hobbies. I could do few hours a week Mon-Fri.
Pat - 17-Sep-17 @ 3:39 PM
I'm looking to volunteer on weekends in Southampton. I live in Romsey so local would be good. Open to all opportunities Thank you
Emma - 17-Sep-17 @ 12:15 AM
Brian - Your Question:
I'm looking to help out in homeless shelter in swanse area. I would be able to help in evenings after work.

Our Response:
Try contacting the following organisations:
Shelter Cymru
Zac's Place
The Wallich
Parklands Church
VoluntaryWorker - 12-Sep-17 @ 2:41 PM
I'm looking to help out in homeless shelter in swanse area. I would be able to help in evenings after work.
Brian - 11-Sep-17 @ 9:04 PM
I am looking to volunteer in the Sheffield /rotherham areas. I am an assessor and a mother , who would like to help the homeless and give some kind of support.
Kim - 9-Sep-17 @ 10:29 PM
I work full time as a care assessor but in my spare time is like to be involved with helping homeless people..after all a lot of us are only 2 wage packets away from being homeless ourselves..Iwork shifts so have an irregular availability but would like to get involved in the Leicester area..can you help?
Ginny - 23-Aug-17 @ 5:16 PM
I'm looking to volunteer with any homeless, soup kitchen charities in hertfordshire area. I currently can't find any group that isn't too far.. Can you help please? Many thanks
Tazy - 17-Aug-17 @ 3:51 PM
people shouldnt suffer if we can help
scuzzy - 3-Aug-17 @ 11:32 PM
id like to help anyone on the streets ! it breaks me to think people still live like this! how can i help
scuzzy - 3-Aug-17 @ 11:30 PM
Hello there. I am looking for a way to help homeless people in the southampton Hampshire area. I have just recently moved to the area where I am working with a health care company. Health care at home. Based at UHS. General Hospital.My shifts are fairly stable. Early morning 07-00 15-00 hrs. And late shift 14-0022-00. I do get two days off a week not always the same days and not always the weekends. I enjoy helping people and I can spare a few hours a week. I can medical assess. I am quite a good cook drive a mini bus. I would like to volunteer to help. Hope to here from you soon.
Taxi - 26-Jul-17 @ 6:38 AM
Just watched a street cat called bob !. If there are any organisations round Leeds, York, Wakefield, Doncaster etc that need a helping hand ?. Can help day or eve or night.
Rambo - 15-Jul-17 @ 9:46 PM
lizzi - Your Question:
I'm looking to volunteer with any homeless, soup kitchen charities in the London Middlesex area. I currently can't find any group that isn't to far away, I am home-schooling my 5year old child and would like it if we can both volunteer, Can you help please? With thanks.

Our Response:
In general London is an easy to find place homeless action groups simply by searching on the internet. However, we have some specific results from an answer to a previous post:
North London Action for the Homeless
St Saviour's Priory
The Pavement
St Mungos BroadwayVoluntaryWorker - 21-Jun-17 @ 12:18 PM
I'm looking to volunteer with any homeless, soup kitchen charities in the London Middlesex area. I currently can't find any group that isn't to far away, I am home-schooling my 5year old child and would like it if we can both volunteer, Can you help please? With thanks.
lizzi - 19-Jun-17 @ 12:50 PM
Please could someone advise where my son and I could volunteer near Maidstone... Am having no luck with getting volunteer work Many thanks
Sara - 6-Jun-17 @ 6:31 PM
Hi I'm looking to help in a soup kitchen / food bank in the leicester area. I have lots of free time and would love to help.
Chris - 3-Jun-17 @ 9:20 AM
I am keen to volunteer in a soup kitchen . I live in Worcester park, Surrey and am happy to work locally or slightly further away on a regularbasis. Are there any i can contact? i am finding it hard to see any nearby.
Sal - 31-May-17 @ 3:25 PM
Susie - Your Question:
I am eager to help homeless in Wirral area. I can offer commitment , dedication and any medical advice , I have been a practising nurse for over 40 years.

Our Response:
Try contacting one of the following organisations:
Wirral Foodbank
Community Action Wirral
Wirral Evolutions
VoluntaryWorker - 3-May-17 @ 12:42 PM
I am eager to help homeless in Wirral area . I can offer commitment , dedication and any medical advice , I have been a practising nurse for over 40 years .
Susie - 2-May-17 @ 10:51 PM
I am looking to volunteer with the homeless in Nottinghamshire, I work full time so would have to look at evenings/week ends, any suggestions?
Jojo - 30-Apr-17 @ 11:18 AM
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