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Working with the Homeless

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 2 May 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]
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
Hi Looking at doing some volunteering within the Maidstone Borough, helping with the homeless. Never done volunteering don't know where to start. Hope someone can give me some information
Mungo - 20-Apr-17 @ 7:01 PM
I am interested in volunteering in a soup kitchen around the Ashby-de-la-Zouch in NW Leicestershire area? Thank you
Claire - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:01 PM
Hiya I was just wondering if there's an age limit on helping the homeless . E.g food banks and soup kitchens in Sheffield.
Eliza - 12-Apr-17 @ 6:05 PM
Fi- Your Question:
Hi My daughter and I are trying to find a soup kitchen in Redcar&cleveland or teesside to hrlp out but am struggling to find one Can you help? Thanks

Our Response:
Have you tried
Redcar Area Foodbank
or
The Moses Project
VoluntaryWorker - 30-Mar-17 @ 12:23 PM
Hi My daughter and I are trying to find a soup kitchen in Redcar&cleveland or teesside to hrlp out but am struggling to find one Can you help? Thanks
Fi - 29-Mar-17 @ 8:21 AM
Hello, I was wondering if you knew of a soup kitchen or similar in Bury ST Edmund i could volunteer at. Many thanks
Beth - 28-Mar-17 @ 9:28 AM
hi i am interested in volunteering in soup kitchen in blackpool phone me on 07974792471. thank you.
wayne - 27-Mar-17 @ 8:48 PM
Lindz - Your Question:
Hi there, I am interested in helping out at a soup kitchen or something similar in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, if you could put me in touch with any relevant organisations please? Many thanks

Our Response:
Here are some places you could try:
Roundabout Homeless
Riverside
VoluntaryWorker - 24-Mar-17 @ 1:46 PM
Hi there, i am interested in helping out at a soup kitchen or something similar in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, if you could put me in touch with any relevant organisations please? Many thanks
Lindz - 21-Mar-17 @ 8:00 PM
My husband and I would like to volunteer in the soup kitchen/bus in cardiff. How do we go about it?
Becky - 20-Mar-17 @ 10:57 PM
I would really like to know how I could get involved with working with the homeless in my town of Reading. Could anyone point me in the right direction? Many thanks Tax Dyer
Taz - 20-Mar-17 @ 7:29 PM
Aimsss - Your Question:
Live in Huddersfield, really wanna help at a soup kitchen or something to do with giving out food and necessities to the homeless

Our Response:
Here are some organisations we are aware of:
The Huddersfield Mission on 01484 421461 or email aul.bridges@huddersfieldmission.org.uk
Or
Simon on the Streets volunteer page to help in Leeds and Huddersfield
There is also a list of homeless charities in theYorkshire area here.
VoluntaryWorker - 10-Mar-17 @ 11:20 AM
Live in Huddersfield, really wanna help at a soup kitchen or something to do with giving out food and necessities to the homeless
Aimsss - 9-Mar-17 @ 9:09 AM
Hi, I would really like to volunteer preferably in a health setting? Im from the Southampton area. Thanks
MADS - 6-Mar-17 @ 1:45 PM
Hi, I am will in anyway for use of my help in whatever you need - I live in the Runcorn, Cheshire area so anything near there would be fine. Hope to hear soon Jason
Jaymcp - 5-Mar-17 @ 12:01 PM
Sharon morey - Your Question:
Hi. I'd really like to offer my help whether it's in a shelter or on the streets with the homeless. I live in the West Bromwich area of Sandwell and don't know where to start. Any advice would be most appreciated. Many thanks. Sharon

Our Response:
To start with, try: Brush Strokes
or The andwell Volunteer Centre
VoluntaryWorker - 1-Mar-17 @ 10:52 AM
I don't have one - Your Question:
I would love to do some voluntry work in or around Leicester. Soup kitchen or night shelter would be great. Can you help with details/information of places? Thanks.

Our Response:
Try your local council for voluntary services for details of any specific one off projects. You could also try:
One Roof
ro
Action Homeless
VoluntaryWorker - 28-Feb-17 @ 10:38 AM
Hi. I'd really like to offer my help whether it's in a shelter or on the streets with the homeless.I live in the West Bromwich area of Sandwell and don't know where to start. Any advice would be most appreciated. Many thanks. Sharon
Sharon morey - 26-Feb-17 @ 11:22 PM
I would love to do some voluntry work in or around Leicester. Soup kitchen or night shelter would be great. Can you help with details/information of places? Thanks.
I don't have one - 26-Feb-17 @ 3:12 PM
I would like to help out with homeless people if I can...soup kitchen would be great...breaks my heart seeing so much homelessness
Eash - 23-Feb-17 @ 1:59 PM
I would like to help the homless people of Rotherham, in the kitchen if possible or anywhere where help is needed.
Di - 23-Feb-17 @ 11:10 AM
I would like to help in the kitchen if possible or anywhere where required.
Di - 23-Feb-17 @ 11:07 AM
I'm looking to volunteer with any homeless outreach group in Maidstone. Currently can't find any group that runs in the evening other than the night shelter. Can you help please? With thanks.
Chrissy - 20-Feb-17 @ 9:44 AM
Hello, I'd like to help with soup kitchen charities in west reading. Can you help with contact details please
Neen - 16-Feb-17 @ 7:56 PM
Hi Im looking to do some volunteer work in my spare time in Nottingham.
Greg - 13-Feb-17 @ 7:29 PM
Debby - Your Question:
Hi I'm looking to help the homeless in Manchester I have a 14 year old daughter who would love to help to.If its just walking the streets and helping to hand food out any help we can give would be great I am a current serving prison office and would love to help

Our Response:
Here are the details of some organisations we're aware of in Manchester:
Manchester@shelter.org.uk
Mustard Tree Volunteering
Barnabus Manchester
Manchester community central volunteer page
VoluntaryWorker - 9-Feb-17 @ 11:02 AM
Hi I'm looking to help the homeless in Manchester I have a 14 year old daughter who would love to help to .If its just walking the streets and helping to hand food out any help we can give would be great I am a current serving prison office and would love to help
Debby - 7-Feb-17 @ 6:33 PM
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