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Helping the homeless: the value of volunteering

by Melissa Finch | 22 October 2018

This year Sellick Partnership has put a lot more emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility and how we can help the local communities that we live and work in. Earlier this year a CSR Committee was formed which includes employees from various areas of the business. The Committee introduced a new scheme where each office was able to choose some local charities to support. One of the charities the Manchester office chose to support was Mustard Tree – a homeless charity tackling both the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness.

Homelessness is a massive issue in Manchester with numbers continuing to rise and the crisis set to become even worse. This is clearly visible in the city, and as I walk to work each morning the amount of people sleeping rough is appalling. I always wonder what I can do to help I have been told that if you want to help then food and drink is the best thing to give rather than money, however even this kind act every now and again doesn’t feel enough.

With Sellick Partnership supporting Mustard Tree it has become a lot easier for employees to help the homeless. There are lots of opportunities for us to get involved from helping people write CVs to volunteering at their soup kitchen. I decided to volunteer for the soup kitchen which is held every Friday evening from 5:30pm-9:00pm at their site in Ancoats. I really didn’t know what to expect and I must admit I was slightly nervous, however as soon as I arrived it was clear that this is such a friendly environment.

It was a really rewarding experience, and I would not hesitate to volunteer again. In fact it is something I would like to do on a more regular basis. After we served the food, we were able to mingle and talk with the users of the charity. Most of the users were in groups and there is a real sense of community, with everyone helping each other in any way they can. I decided to speak to an elderly man who explained to me how lonely he was. Sometimes he can go days without speaking to anyone. We spoke about politics, history and songs he likes – he gave me some suggestions which I am yet to listen to!

I also learned a lot from the regular volunteers at the charity. They have around 150 people each Friday night who come in to get a hot meal. We were told that as it was a nice evening weather wise, we might not get as many. Unfortunately this is due to people not wanting to leave their prime spot in the town centre where many who walk by will give them money. This is really concerning, as if they are able to come into Mustard Tree there are so many ways the charity is able to help them try to leave a life of poverty and street sleeping. This is why it’s really important to encourage anyone who does want to help the homeless to donate directly to the charity.

My volunteering experience got me thinking about the value of volunteering, and why more people should try and volunteer at a charity. I know it can be difficult to find time as we have work and home commitments, but if you do ever have some free time there is nothing more rewarding you can do. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, acquire new skills and gain experience – it gives value not only to the people you are helping but to you as well.

I have now put my name down to volunteer again, and whenever there is a space available I will definitely go back and help at the Mustard Tree soup kitchen.

There are also many other ways of helping and you don’t always have to volunteer to make a difference. If you would like to donate to Mustard Tree please visit their website http://www.mustardtree.org.uk/please-donate/ you can donate money, food and even unwanted clothes.

If you would like to find out more about what Sellick Partnership’s CSR activities are you can visit our CSR page https://www.sellickpartnership.co.uk/work-for-us/sp-benefits/sp-community-and-csr.