Kam visited the Shelter project for the first time last Thursday. She sent us a copy of her diary entry for the day. It shows brilliantly how the project benefits both the guests and volunteers and gives an overview of how the project works.
Diary entry for the Shelter Project Hounslow, evening of Thursday 7 January 2016.
Having volunteered to provide support in any way in the kitchen area, I undertook the role of General Kitchen Hand.
I found the evening to be very well organised and operated within a controlled safe environment.
My first night included a general meeting (with volunteers for the night) before opening, including a discussion on order of events e.g. how, what, when and, of course, important health and safety considerations.
From our meeting, I was aware that the expectation on the night was about 14 guests. When the doors opened each guest was signed in before being seated in the vestibule area. This is the only area that is opened, except for upstairs which is used for sleeping.
As soon as each guest was seated they were offered a cup of tea or coffee, then about half an hour later the evening meal was served (I thought the meal and dessert were tasty). We sat with the guests and ate together. I did more listening than talking, but I guess this is where you make a sensible judgement call (useful tips and advice and more! are provided in the booklet given to each volunteer). There was then seconds! and dessert and finally games.
The evening from start to finish (for me) was about 7.30 to 10 pm. As the evening was well organised, part of this was that there were not too many or too little volunteers, but the correct desired number. For me, this meant that the evening was enjoyable and done in rest and peace as tasks e.g. taking orders, serving, clearing tables, some washing up and general kitchen duties were shared and we all supported each other. I met church members I haven’t before and also had an opportunity to get to know current members more.
Most importantly of all it felt rewarding being part of doing something that blesses others.