Over 50 volunteers work with St Martins; some on a weekly basis offering 1-to-1 wellbeing walks and running projects such as upcycling and digital skills. Others help annually at the fundraising street collection in Norwich centre or periodically at supermarket collections throughout the year.
Michael Emeney co-ordinates volunteers at our Learning and Development centre. He matches an individual’s abilities and interests with the needs of the charity and ensures they receive the training and support they need. Michael said, “Volunteers offer immense value to St Martins and to the people we support. You don’t necessarily need experience of working in the homelessness sector. What is common amongst all our volunteers is empathy, a non-judgemental attitude and a positive approach to making a difference.”
Some of St Martins’ volunteers are people currently supported within the charity’s services, such as in their hostels and community houses. Head of Life Skills Nicky King said, “We regularly hear from the people we support that we have helped them through a hard time and they want to give something back. Volunteering helps to develop the confidence and skills that stand them in good stead for future employment.”
One volunteer who has developed an excellent rapport with many of the visitors to St Martins learning and development centre Under 1 Roof is Kevin Snelling [pictured] who volunteers at the centre twice a week.
Kevin is on hand to support people as they come to the centre or if they wish to talk. Kevin also goes on ‘wellbeing walks’ with residents of the charity’s hostel Bishopbridge House. One resident hadn’t left his room for several days and Kevin was able to encourage him to come out for a walk by the river, which the resident found to be a positive experience. Kevin said, “The most important skill is to be able to listen – and also to be non-judgmental. We just talk about ordinary things. I could spend an hour with someone and if they go away feeling better and more confident, then it’s all good.”
Volunteers Week is a national movement to celebrate the contributions of volunteers and to demonstrate how people can make a difference to a cause they are passionate about.