7 June 2020

I’m Paul, I’m a volunteer with the homelessness team at YMCA Weston-super-Mare. I have been a volunteer for a year now but my whole family have been regular visitors of the YMCA for over 2 years and we all benefit a lot from our engagement with the centre.

We started by visiting a home school meet up group held in the youth cafe and we liked it because

it gave the children time to play together and the adults time to chat. Being a carer for my wife I used to stay at home most of the time and it was suggested to me that volunteering would good.

When a volunteering role came up with the YMCA Homelessness Project I applied straight away as I felt it would be a good fit for me and I really wanted to try and do some good for homeless people

The project manager was great, he let me accompany him and observe him working with no pressure until I felt confident enough to do stuff and after a while, I became more relaxed and really wanted to do all I could to help my manager and the clients we were working with.

A year into the role and I am volunteering two days a week and the homelessness project is doing well. It’s gone from just the manager and me to others joining the team and I’m working with and offering any assistance I can to them too.

I honestly think volunteering has helped me as well. It gets me out and about in my town and I feel like it helps to give me a sense of purpose. I like the thought that I can listen to and talk with people when they really need someone to take the time to do that. Quite often I can also help gather the information the team needs to know how to best help someone.

All my family enjoy the social side of being involved with the YMCA. My daughter has also joined the Youth Club at the centre now and really enjoys playing pool with all the other children. In fact she’s got rather good at it, she has beaten me at pool a few times too, which she enjoys even more!

*this blog post was written prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (May, 2019)

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Homeless Outreach Support Team have been working tirelessly to support rough sleepers who have been placed into temporary accommodation, as well as continue to offer street based support to those who have struggled to adjust to life indoors and returned to rough sleeping. By working in partnership with the Local Authority and other partner agencies, the team have been able to ensure that clients’ needs are met and they can be supported throughout the crisis.