Sasha, a student volunteer, shares her first impressions of volunteering at the Archer Project.
Having lived in a big city for the past few years now, I've been more than aware of the fact that homelessness is a problem that could potentially affect anyone, with up to a quarter of a million people in the UK living without any shelter. Giving loose bits of change to people on the street can often seem like a quick way to provide help, but what about the people who go that extra step further? I've been visiting The Cathedral Archer Project to find out.
My first visit was on a Friday morning, and at first I was unsure of what to expect. I was given a tour of the building by volunteers, finding out that they not only provide two hot meals a day but also have showers, laundry facilities, medical services and run activities. The aim is to make those who use the centre feel like it is a home, a safe place and a refuge. I was told that I'd come at a fairly quiet time, but the atmosphere was still bustling and busy.
I started chatting to Mark*, who'd started coming to the Archer Project 18 years ago, after beginning at the Salvation Army when he'd been walking the streets at 4am every night.
"I had a lot of anger that needed to be controlled and I was just fighting the world."
He explained that the Archer Project had provided him with the help he needed in order to come full circle, and eventually he started volunteering.
"I come down most days, and I do it for me. I think it helps that I can relate to the people and their situations."
For individuals like Mark the Project provides more than just a place to rest, but a place to develop, gain new skills, and be himself.
*Names have been changed to protect individuals.