Just Normal Men Who Enjoy a Chat!

Matthew Atherfold and Steven Diver and their families joined St John’s in 2016. Matthew and Steven reflect on their first year volunteering at the Shelter Project.

Matthew writes…

I was made aware of the Shelter Project at the St John’s men’s evening. Grant gave a great talk about it, how it affected him, the men involved and the impact it had on their lives. I’d never had experience of this sort of thing before, but I felt I wanted to volunteer; a chance to give something back and expose myself to a problem that’s prevalent in society today.

I’ve been on the early shift since the project started – packing up the bedding, putting away chairs & tables, sweeping the floor etc. but also making time to sit down with the guests over breakfast and have a bit of a chinwag. At first I thought it might be offensive to say to somebody that’s homeless something like “what are you doing today?” or even, “have a nice day.” But whether somebody was going to work, down to the job centre, or off to the library I found their general spirit upbeat and we talked about all kinds of things.

Take away the social stigma placed on homeless people and these are just normal men who enjoy a chat over a cooked breakfast – don’t we all! The effort from the whole Shelter Project team has been amazing with a genuine appreciation from the guests.

Steven writes…

Before I started helping out, I went along to a first aid course in Brentford and met some of the other volunteers and we had fun being instructed by a Red Cross trainer. The men at the Shelter Project all have various issues but are well vetted and you can see that they are genuinely grateful for the help they are getting. In the short time since the Shelter started this year I can see an improvement in the men. They are relaxed and more confident. They are beginning to chat to the volunteers and each other more. They look healthier and calmer.

I am happy to help as part of the team and would not hesitate to help out again.