As the East Surrey Winter Night Shelter approaches, here are some answers to some common questions about working with the homeless and volunteering for us.
Do I need experience of working with homeless people?
A. It is helpful, but most of our volunteers have not worked with homeless people. Experience in a role that involves contact with the public is an asset. Volunteers need to attend one of our training session, which covers all you need to know to volunteer helpfully and safely.
Is there a minimum number of shifts I need to do?
No. Volunteers sign themselves up for as many or as few shifts as they wish. Some people do just one shift, some do many shifts over the course of the Shelter.
Is there an age limit for volunteers? Any adult (18+) can volunteer.
Do I need a DBS check?
No. You do not need to have had a DBS check. The roles and tasks you are carrying out as volunteers and supervisors are not such that DBS checks are needed. Current legislation states homeless people are not classed as vulnerable, however many of the guests could be seen as vulnerable due to their mental health or other health difficulties, however due the nature of the roles RHT has no legitimate reason to request checks be carried out.
Volunteer training covers all safeguarding information you need for helping on a shift and this is mandatory for all volunteers.
Do I have to volunteer at my church?
No. Volunteers can sign themselves onto any shift in any venue, whether or not they are a member of that church or have no church connections.
Do I have to be a member of a church to volunteer?
No. The Shelter is primarily based in church halls but, as with our guests, we welcome people of any faith or none. The only requirement is that you respect people’s faiths and the values of the project.
What happens after I apply to become a volunteer?
We will process your registration and contact you as soon as possible with your details to give you access to “Dutyman” our on-line rostering system. It is through Dutyman that we communicate with ALL our volunteers. Dutyman also enables you to look at the venues and sign up for volunteering opportunities as soon as they are posted.
What happens if I have offered to help and then can’t do that shift?
You cannot remove yourself from a shift as it can mean a shift becomes short-staffed at very short notice. If you cannot a volunteer please contact Anna or Yvonne in the office on 07943 685660 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I bring my dog with me?
No. Our venues are not suitable for dogs so neither guests or volunteers are allowed bring their dogs with them.
Can I catch any diseases if I work at the shelter?
You might catch a cold or flu, in the same way as you might catch them on public transport by being in proximity to other people.
I have a disability. Can I volunteer at the Shelter?
Yes. If you are a wheelchair user, please note that some not all our venues are easily accessible.