Thursday, 30 December 2010

My Volunteering experience

Hi Everyone ! I hope you all survived Christmas and are looking forward to a lovely New Year.

I thought I would fill you all in on my brilliant experience with Crisis at Christmas (Finsbury Park, London centre) It was far and above my expectations, I can't put into words the enjoyment and satisfaction I and all the volunteers got out of it. Myself, my son, his girlfriend and their Australian friend (living here without family) loved it so much that we are up for it next year too.
If I hadn't had family commitments on Boxing day I would have gone back again before my next shift on the 27th, and again after that ( the centre closes today 30th) but I had to head back to Hampshire on 28th sadly.

The lovely veteran actress Sian Phillips, who was once married to Peter O'Toole was there at the centre as a volunteer, she was so lovely and mucked in doing anything asked of her, apparently she has been doing it for a few years now. All the shift leaders running the centre were friendly and amazing to work with. I met lot's of lovely like minded people from all walks of life and all nationalities. I never heard anyone moan about the tasks given and everyone I spoke to intends to go back.

My favourite tasks were washing hair ready for haircuts and serving food in the 'guest' dining room. Our 'guests' were so polite and thankful and believe me they were so well fed.  The amount of fresh veg and meat donated by businesses and shops was awesome and kept arriving throughout the days the centre was open.
There was also all sorts of luxurious donated as well, such as biscuits, cakes, chocolates, shampoos, shower gels.  The generosity was wonderful.

Although we four arrived together we split up to do our days work which was great because we all had our own individual experiences to tell each other. One task was normally done for around 40 mins to an hour and then we were relieved to go and have a cuppa and a snack in the volunteers area. ( I met some great people)
 We then waited for calls to volunteer for the next tasks. One task which we all thought would be boring was sitting in pairs minding 'gaps' this was because there were certain areas of the college that were out of bounds and if they weren't covered by anyone 'guests' would have been wandering all over the building and we wouldn't have known were they were or indeed if they were doing any damage (never happened yet !) but because the college has generously loaned the building for the third year running we have to make sure it's handed back in the condition it was taken over in. fair do's !! Anyway this task turned out to be great, as we got to be with another  volunteer to chat and get to know, and the passing 'guests' liked to stop and chat to us, so we had plenty of interaction with them as well.

CRISIS are doing a wonderful job and this was just at one centre. It is well run, catered for everything the 'guests' could have wanted. Showers, hair wash (if not showering at time of haircut) massage, healing, yoga, dance, (the Salsa class went down well ) optician, doctor, dentist, Internet and P.C classes, Bingo which was called out by a Cross Dressing 'guest' in a bright pink lurex dress who also played a mean game of football in the sports hall, I know this as she/he was on my son's team when he volunteered to do the sports. I have to say this particular guest was a gem and so grateful to be there.
I could go on and on but wont ! I would like to ask that you sponsor me though ( I won't be offended if you don't) please help Crisis to carry on their work all year by donating any amount no matter how small.
Here is my sponsorship link :



P.S next time I see a person sitting in a cold doorway I will always offer to buy them a coffee or a sandwich ( I never give money) that's one of my N.Y resolutions. My daughter saw a couple on Christmas Eve in Winchester go into a shop and buy a chap in a doorway a duvet. There are Angels among us even the Human kind !!


Vegetable Heaven said...

What a wonderful way to spend your Christmas. I used to volunteer at a shelter for down and out men in Manchester as a late teenager - we mainly cooked and served an evening meal to homeless men. As you say it was something whch gave me as much as I gave them.

And grateful! We take too much for granted these days. Well done to you and your family.

allot of veg said...

Well done Maureen. Glad you had a good time. We fed an extra "waif and stray" at Christmas and it made everything seem a bit brighter and was a good life lesson for the boys. (an ex-relative fallen on hard times and due to spend Christmas alone)

Maureen said...

Thanks for the comments VEGETABLE HEAVEN & ALLOT OF VEG, I can see that you two can understand how I felt having done good deeds yourselves. Giving is far better than receiving isn't it ?

Jo said...

I was wondering how your Christmas went, Maureen. It sounds like it was a fulfilling experience and that you got out of it just as much as your 'guests' did. Happy New Year. Hope 2011 brings health, peace and happiness to you and your's.

Maureen said...

Thank you JO. It was the most fulfilling Christmas ever, giving is definitely much more rewarding than receiving, especially giving time. I will be doing it again next year.
Happy New Year to you and your family. M xx