Ian volunteers his time for our complex needs accommodation on Saturdays, helping with lunch preparation, clearing and washing up, as well as helping at some of HARP’s fundraising events. Ian told us more about why he volunteers:
“Initially I was planning to volunteer as a stop gap,” said Ian. “I do freelance work from home and at one point I had a fair amount of free time so I wanted to use it constructively, and homelessness is something I feel pretty strongly about.”
Ian has now been a dedicated HARP volunteer for three years.
“I like to think I’m making a difference but it also gets me out of the house!” Ian told us. “I spend all day and week working at home so I enjoy the company. If I’m feeling low the service users can help lift me up. That’s not what I do it for but that’s invariably what happens. In a way I can relate to the people I meet while I’m volunteering as I’ve faced mental health challenges myself, like some of those I’m working with.”
Ian likes to take some time to talk to the service users.
“It’s nice to see some of the quiet ones come out of their shell a bit and to get to know their background. I try to make their encounters with me positive as I want my time to be worthwhile and well spent.”
When we spoke to Ian he was about to start volunteering again after a six month break due to coronavirus restrictions.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, getting out of the house more and returning to a bit of normality. I hope they’ll be pleased to see me too.”
Ian told us that one of the biggest surprises of volunteering with HARP was the range of backgrounds that people come from.
“Not everyone fits the stereotypical picture of someone who has had drug and alcohol problems and slept on the streets,” Ian told us. “A lot of people staying at HARP come from quite ‘normal’ backgrounds. They were married with a job and a house and they lost it all because of various circumstances. That’s been the biggest eye-opener to me because it really could happen to anyone.”
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