When I first signed up for a befriending role, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The training is well structured and thorough, but until you get going its hard to know how the friendship will develop. My advice to anyone new would be to go with it and see what works for both people. If you are thinking of becoming a befriender, give it a go. You will get the support you need. You will make a difference to someone else’s life as well as your own.
I’ve always had a desire to support individuals who are homeless, as I feel there is a huge injustice in society when someone is deprived of receiving the fundamentals in life, like food and shelter. I read about Turning Tides and all of the great work they do to support people experiencing homelessness, and then saw their ‘Festive Friends’ volunteering opportunity.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was presented to our charity on Wednesday 1st September 2021 by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper at the Littlehampton Community Hub.
The award is the highest of it’s kind given in the sector across the UK. The award is considered the MBE for volunteer groups, recognising the outstanding service volunteers have made to their local community.
Officially announced back in June 2020, the actual award presentation had been delayed to ensure everyone’s safety. Mrs Pyper, presenting the award on behalf of the Queen, spoke passionately to the volunteers in the audience:
“You are a group of very special people. Very few actually get awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, so it is a very prestigious award. You have set the bar very high… You are a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and in this case, I really, really mean it.”
I am proud of the opportunities that the Volunteering team give to so many individuals. Being so inclusive and non-judgemental opens so many doors for those that may have not had the chance to thrive and develop before. I am proud that Turning Tides are a co-produced organisation, by listening and learning from those individual that have lived in the homeless community enables us to understand and help change lives, this is invaluable.
I love meeting so many interesting and diverse people, both clients and volunteers, I love the variety it offers and I love the freedom the organisation allows for creative and innovative ways to improve and enhance staff, clients and volunteers experiences. Everything we do is with client and volunteers in mind while offering volunteers the best possible experience. I am proud of our corporate and youth volunteering opportunities and how we involve the wider community in the organisation.
I genuinely love every aspect of my job. I appreciate all the wonderful people I get to meet on a daily basis; volunteers, clients and colleagues. It is a very friendly place to work and I am constantly learning. I am proud to work alongside some incredible people. I am proud that we have people in our volunteer team who have supported the charity since the outset. I am proud that we have opportunities for everyone in our community to get involved, whether its 1 day a year or 1 day a week. I am thrilled that our incredible volunteers have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service!
It has changed my life in ways I cannot describe. The residents always thank me, but it is me who thanks them sincerely for allowing me into their homes to cook with them. I have met so many incredible people – staff, clients & volunteers. I get to cook the food I love, for people I care deeply about. It’s the best thing I have ever done.
I have gained so much from my volunteering role – it’s given me an appreciation to the daily struggle faced by the people that need their services. It has broken down the barriers I had in approaching those in need. I felt almost unable to offer anything of worth but in reality a simple conversation goes a long way.