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"It's good for my soul to do something for other people" - Darren's Story

We caught up with kitchen volunteer Darren, who uses his experience

as a trained chef to volunteer and cook for others at HARP.

Volunteer Darren preparing lunch at the Bradbury Day Centre

“I volunteer for HARP because I’ve been in the situation that the people who use HARP have been in - I have been homeless various times. I am also a trained chef so I started volunteering and it is good for my soul to do something for other people, it’s part of my recovery.”

Having experienced homelessness in the past himself, Darren can empathise with exactly what HARP’s clients are going through.

“I’ve been in the situation myself so I know what it’s like for someone just to acknowledge you, even if it is just a ‘hello’. To be compassionate and to be there for people is a good thing to do, you feel alive. HARP is all encompassing too so not only am I cooking for them but I can be a means of support - it’s not just about the cooking, it’s about working with people.”

During his time as a volunteer, Darren has had appreciation for his time and work from both HARP staff and the service users themselves.

“What I enjoy the most about volunteering is the fulfilment. It’s doing stuff for other people, seeing them get well and seeing them appreciate what’s being done. It’s the little ‘thank yous’ I get here and there – people actually going out of their way and writing it on a bit of paper to give to me – all the little nudges and recognition. My ultimate aim is to feed them and to make them feel some kind of spiritual nourishment for the day that may get them through, it may even save their life, because it did mine.”

When reflecting on why he thinks people should volunteer for HARP, Darren feels that they should do it “for the community”.

“I believe that no one person deserves to live their life on the streets and anyone, no matter their background, has got something to offer someone who is living on the streets. Simply saying ‘hello’, giving them a cup of coffee, making a meal, it is that act of sincerity coming from a place and not expecting anything back. It benefits the volunteer as much as it more than benefits the people who are receiving the help that we give. I couldn’t recommend it more.”

Darren expands on his reasoning as to why he decided to volunteer for HARP and what he likes about the organisation.

“I think having been on both sides of the fence I see how it works professionally and I see the ethos. I see a compassionate organisation wanting genuinely and sincerely to get people off the streets and into a life that is meaningful and purposeful. They do care. They have a genuine care for me as a person, I’m not just a volunteer, I’m a person with a life experience that they want to help, just as much as they want to help those we are volunteering for.”

If you are interested in volunteering for HARP, you can fill out the volunteer enquiry form or apply for one of our volunteer vacancies directly.

Volunteer Coordinator Stevie (left) with some of HARP's volunteers


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