Rick*, one of our employees, volunteers at a homeless shelter in Bristol.

Here, he describes some of the work he does to help homeless people in the area:

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“The shelter can hold up to 15 homeless men and women a night and, over the last few years, I have worked night shifts there on a voluntary basis. The shift starts in the early evening and the first thing I do is check the potential overnight guests. To meet the criteria the applicant must be street homeless, over the age of 18 and not have any issues with drugs or alcohol.

When people are admitted, bedding is provided, and we provide hot drinks, biscuits, as well as any donated snacks. There are bathroom and shower facilities on site and at midnight the doors are locked. I sleep on roll out mattress on the floor with the guests.

At 7am I get up and make hot drinks and porridge for breakfast. After everyone leaves I load the dishwasher and make sure the shelter is clean and tidy before dropping the keys back to the owner.

Volunteering for the homeless has given me exposure to the ‘hidden’ homelessness problem in Bristol. A number of people who use the service work ‘ordinary’ jobs, and use the shelter to save for a deposit on a rented flat or bed sit. To look at them, you would never have guessed they were homeless. The determination of the majority of these people to earn enough money to get a home in the private rented sector in this city is really humbling.”

*We have used an alias to protect the identity of our colleague.