Back to Basis – Volunteer Blog Part 1
Volunteering at Basis@336 for Aquila Way, Gateshead
Volunteers Christine Bainbridge, Ian Watson and Kay Zwolinska share their thoughts on helping at Basis@336 – Aquila Way’s homelessness resource centre, as part of VONNE’s Volunteers Blog Action Day, celebrating Volunteer Week 2012.
In some ways the experience of volunteering into this project seems simple. On paper, what we do is not rocket science. Anyone can make cups of tea and toast, chat about the TV or the football scores. Can’t they?
Well, probably so. Look deeper though and the real score is not the football. The burning issues are not toast. With each encounter, we are offered a privileged window on the lives of others. Lives where there is grief and loss, loneliness and fear, loss of role, boredom and pain. Everyone is welcome, regardless of current situation or history.
The project staff work hard to create meaningful goals around housing, training or employment. People are encouraged to face challenges, sometimes life changing, sometimes simply getting through the week. Some clients engage, some struggle. No-one is judged; everyone is taken seriously.
On with the tea and toast. Among dirty cups, sticky jam and dirty laundry, we know the reality and seek God’s presence. Many times during chats we feel powerless to suggest and incapable of comment. Being there, showing genuine interest and listening is what’s required. Next week the smiles and greetings will show all the appreciation we need.
Christine Bainbridge, Ian Watson, Kay Zwolinska
Basis@336 is a drop in centre for those who are homeless (including rough sleepers and sofa surfers) and those at risk of homelessness. At Basis individuals can access emergency food, a hot shower, use the laundry and internet facilities, receive housing advice and information or simply come in for a cup of tea and slice of toast in its open and welcoming environment.
Basis@336 is located on the Gateshead High Street and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 2pm.
If you are interested in volunteering at Basis@336 or one of Aquila Way’s other innovative projects please contact our volunteer coordinator, Becca Kay, on 0191 491 5700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.