Interview with Ian Breen from Acton Homeless Concern
Quite simply, we exist to provide advice and support to homeless and needy people, who need shelter and hope.
Benefacto’s volunteers provide valuable, helping out mainly in the kitchen, where we provide hot meals to London’s homeless. Volunteers also help out with the everyday running of the centre.
I’d like to see more understanding and awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness, who it affects and why. I think that would lead to greater engagement with homeless issues from those in the corporate world.
Yes, very well. Short-term volunteers fill in the spaces when we’re short of staff, which is really valuable. We’re always looking for volunteers that can spare a few hours to help with the day-to-day running of the centre; it allows us to provide our services.
All sorts of stuff – employee volunteers help out at the doctor’s reception, support the catering staff, help run the café and sort and distribute clothing.
I can think of a couple of examples actually. One time I was having trouble filling out my census and a volunteer helped me sort it out and input the data. On another occasion, a volunteer who was well-versed in health and safety regulations gave some really useful advice and pointed out that the centre needed hand rails, which we now have.
They get a real insight into homelessness. There’s a big taboo surrounding homelessness, but once volunteers meet people at Acton Homeless concern and learn where they come from, they start to understand the individuals and their needs. I think they come away with a new insight and understanding of the causes and issues surrounding homelessness.
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