I started teaching in a school in Glasgow in 2001 and started volunteering with staff and senior pupils on the soup kitchen. Every Wednesday we would make the soup, 300 rolls and take out fruit. We would meet up with a charity who ran the service and would be in George Square from 10-11pm. It was great for staff and learners to work together and to be doing a wee bit to help. During the school holidays I would rope in my dad and friends to help.
It wasn’t a big deal. It was just what we did. I ended up training with the charity to be senior volunteer and run the shift. We did moving and handling, first aid, child protection and suicide awareness. I’ve used every bit of that training.
Fast forward to now, we’re still outside but at 9pm in a different location.
During my time as a volunteer I’ve had a knife pulled on me, worked with suicidal people of all ages, visited service users in their accommodation, arranged for furniture for people in new accommodation, been called all sorts of colourful things, worked with emergency services and so much more. I’ve seen people at their best and at their very worst. I’ve cried with them and I’ve laughed with them. We’ve celebrated small victories and been heartbroken when we’ve lost friends.
I’ve had the odd rant about it but like so many other people, we are just trying our best to help.
We have a great team of volunteers who have been quietly rocking up for over 10 years now on a Sunday night . We rely on each other giving time. Our volunteers range from university professors, students, parents, people from faith groups, grandparents, and people who just want to help-each bringing their time and talent to listen. We have a mental health first aider with us too.
We have an amazing community of family and friends who donate toiletries, clothes and dried goods.
Last night was indeed a first. A couple with a young baby who had been all over the city (and I mean all over) trying to get powdered baby milk.
It was very cold and they were at their wits end. Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t decide to walk all over the city looking for baby milk and rock up at the last food provision in the city if you were not desperate! They told me the fresh air helped their wee one sleep. Indeed but at 920pm at night, he should be sleeping at home.
A few phone calls later and out of hours social work helped us. They arranged for a taxi to pick them up, get them milk and get them home.
The family were on Universal Credit and from what I understand, had not had a payment.
To be the 5th stop on their day and being able to help them was a tiny victory.
It’s hard because the easiest thing would have been to get the milk( and believe me if we had not got the result with social work that is what we would have done) but then that doesn’t help in the grand scheme as it just gets “coped with” and everyone thinks it’s fine. It’s not fine. It’s horrific and if it wasn’t for the generosity of time and resources from people, instances of this couple would be MUCH higher.
Note to self: get a tin of aptamil in the bag along with the durex, toothpaste, shower gel and socks.