In the first of our regular feature, we sit down with one of our Monday night Welfare Coordinators to discover why she volunteers her time to help homeless and vulnerable people across Newcastle.

  1. WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE PEOPLE’S KITCHEN?
  2. I always wanted to volunteer, and I did all of my

university projects on homelessness. It’s something

I’m quite passionate about.

  1. WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING THE HOMELESS?
  2. I can sit in my nice warm house and complain that it’s

cold outside, when actually I’ve got it good. Lots of

people don’t have that option.

  1. WHAT DID YOU STUDY AT UNIVERSITY?
  2. Criminology. I based a lot of my work on how being homeless can lead to offending; trying to fend for yourself and vice versa. Also, the impact offending can have on being able to get housing and live a normal life afterwards, which tends to go belly up unfortunately.
  3. WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE PEOPLE’S KITCHEN?
  4. I am a Welfare Coordinator on Monday night outreach. I do a lot of signposting to other services that can help, especially the street homeless, and make referrals for things like emergency accommodation.
  5. HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE PEOPLE’S KITCHEN?
  6. Through work. I work with offenders. Generally, our

clients have chaotic lifestyles. Nothing is easy for them.

It’s hard for them to get into accommodation, employment, anything really… so The People’s Kitchen provides a bit of stability. It’s somewhere they can come throughout the week and they know they’ll get fed, which for some isn’t very often.

  1. DOES WORKING AT THE PEOPLE’S KITCHEN IMPACT YOU AT WORK?
  2. 100% yes. Rather than just seeing people in their current state as they come in the door, I think about their situation. Can I influence it at all? Can I point them in the right direction?

I’ve learned a lot about that while volunteering. I’ve always been able to talk to people, but I’ve learned how to approach situations better from being here. I’m more likely to ask questions than make assumptions. I look for how I can address the whole thing without intruding. It’s grounding coming to The People’s Kitchen. I can sit and think I’ve had the worst day in the world at work, and then I come here and think actually no I haven’t. It keeps my head right and stops me being overdramatic.

 

“I’m more likely to ask questions than make assumptions.”
CEARA

 

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Over 200 volunteers deliver a staggering 35,000 hours of voluntary hours each year representing a benefit in kind wage saving of £500,000.