Steph, one of our fab volunteers is leaving and she has shared what she has got out of helping at the project.
Homelessness is something that I have always thought a lot about so deciding to investigate it for my third year dissertation just made sense and was the perfect opportunity to delve in and find out more. I have always wondered about the stories behind homelessness and if it was at all possible for me to find out if a solution was out there somewhere. I decided that in order for me to write a 10,000-word essay on homelessness, information off the internet just wouldn’t suffice. I had to get myself out there, engage with those who knew it the most, those who had suffered and are suffering it. I wanted to become involved in some way.
I contacted the Cathedral Archer Project and became a volunteer two days a week. From the offset I was involved in most aspects of the project. As the weeks went by I often found myself forgetting about my dissertation investigation. I found myself wanting to be at CAP to help others.
Week by week clients grew to know me and I began to know them. I learnt early on that to build a strong relationship with clients could often take months sometimes years but the astounding staff at CAP had managed this. Strong and trusting relationships were definitely present at CAP between staff and clients and were visible daily. The relationship between staff and clients was something that stood out to me from the beginning. I soon understood that for clients, CAP is a lifeline and a place they treasure. For them it feels safe here, it’s a friendly face on a dull morning.
Hearing clients’ stories over my time at CAP is something that will always be a big part of my experience. For them to feel able to open up to me meant a great deal and those stories will stay with me for a lifetime.
CAP has given me an unforgettable experience and although I may have helped clients at CAP with a friendly face in the morning, an ear to listen to, placed their washing in the machine or helped make a phone call, the clients at CAP have helped me. They have helped me to realise that homelessness can happen to anyone. To me, to you, to the person sat next to you. Homelessness does not define a person. Homelessness is not a self-contained event but a series of events that happen in a person’s life and the way in which those events have affected that person.
Being involved in CAP is one of the most rewarding things I have done to date. The courage the clients have and the smiles that still appear on their faces during such a difficult life event is astonishing.