Homeless people

Recent figures show that as many as 150,000 people are homeless on the streets of London alone.

The best way to volunteer with homeless people is to search via Google or another search engine for a nearby homeless shelter or drop in centre and contact them directly to see if they need any volunteers. They always need help in the kitchen preparing and dishing out food. Or help in the laundry room to make sure people can get their clothes cleaned. A lot of shelters do outreach work so after being thoroughly trained you could actually get out on the streets talking to people to find out about their individual needs in order to give the help and advice they need.

Some shelters might need particular skills too, depending on the different services that they offer. Some offer training in web design or hold computer workshops. Most provide careers advice, and they are often looking for volunteers with language skills.  

Here’s a list of the main national charities that deal with homelessness. They often need volunteers and post vacancies on their website.

  • Crisis - Crisis is a national charity and there are opportunities to volunteer in London Edinburgh and Newcastle.  For more information take a look at the Crisis website 
  • Shelter - it’s hard to find volunteering directly with the homeless through Shelter but you could volunteer in one of their 100 shops across Britain or help in their head office in London with general filing, faxing and mailing or taking photographs for their eBay shop.
  • Big Issue - if you want to work directly with the homeless you could sell The Big Issue to vendors operating from offices or mobile distribution units in London, Birmingham, Norwich, Bristol, Bournemouth and Bath. Or they always need help with HR and admin in their head office in London.

Heidi volunteers at The Connections at St Martins in central London. She helps out in their activities room, making sure people can access the computers to find a hostel, apply for a job or simply surf the net for free.

What you can do - Idea - Homeless

It’s really opened my eyes to the reasons why people can become homeless, which makes me think very differently when I pass a homeless person in the street now. It was hard at the beginning but I deal with my emotions better now and enjoy talking to them just like anyone else, or playing a game of scrabble or helping someone be patient and calm when trying to piece a puzzle together.

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