The work in The Simon Community is carried out by volunteers and residents living and working together as a community. Full-time volunteers live in our houses with our residents, sharing their mutual strengths and weaknesses and creating a unique atmosphere of love and acceptance. This is not easy to sustain, but for many of our residents it may be the first time in their lives that they have been respected and have somewhere they can belong. We encourage change without aiming to 'rehabilitate'.
The working week of a full time volunteer is busy and varied. Our volunteers work at all our outreach services and are on hand to support residents at home. Living and working with homeless people is not without challenges, but the experience is rewarding. Often volunteers apply because they are interested in working wth homeless people but they lack the experience they need to get a job. One of our full time volunteers said recently:
"I have always been interested in working wtih homeless people and thought that volunteering full time would be a good way to get that experience. You learn a lot very quickly. Living and working with the residents immerses you into the culture of the community. I think it would have taken me a long time to learn this much in a 9-5 job!"
Though this is unpaid voluntary work, all living expenses (board, food, travel etc) are provided and all bills paid in Central London accommodation. Volunteers are entitled to time off away from the residential setting in a flat provided just for them. All you need to bring with you is your time and energy.
What do I need to be a full-time volunteer?
Full-time volunteers need to be at least 19 years old, they must be willing to join in and be kind to others. You don't need to have prior experience, qualifications or any religeous beliefs to join our community.
What is the minimum commitment?
We ask full-time volunteers to commit to work and live in the Communtiy for at least 6 months.
How do I know if I will like the work?
A good starting point is for you to read our Pre-application information for full-time volunteers and the role description. If you are interested, you can complete a full-time volunteer Application Form. If this is satisfactory we will arrange for you to visit the Community for 72 hours, so we can meet you and you can join in the work of the Community.During this time you will have a short interview.
What should I expect?
To join in, work hard, have fun, learn lots and meet a lot of people! One of our volunteers shared his experience of how the reality differed from his expectations:
"I was really surprised to be staying in a proper house! I thought I was coming to a homeless hostel that would be quite chaotic and have loads of peole there, but the house is like a proper home. Everyone contributes and works together, we have breakfast meetings where we plan the day and we eat together in the evening which is nice."
What can I gain from my experience in The Simon Community?
Part-time volunteers do not live in Simon houses. Many of our ex-residents are active part-time volunteers. Our part-time volunteers can be around far longer than the full time ones and so provide vital continuity. They are involved in most aspects of the Community, be it streetwork, tea-runs, street café, helping out in the houses, winter night shelter, women's group, day centre, driving, office work, campaigning, fundraising or using any other skills they have to help our work. It is valuable that part-time volunteers see Simon from a different perspective from the people who live here full-time.
Do you have a particular skill you would like to share with The Simon Community and a few hours to spare? We are always looking for additional help in areas such as fundraising, accountancy, administration, marketing, PR, human resource management and training. We are particularly looking, at the moment, for drivers for our van & minibus, which deliver most of our outreach services. Please get in touch with us, if you are able to help.
What is the minimum commitment?
We don't have a rule as such, but in practice it's a good idea to make a regular commitment of at least once every week or two. Our main needs are in the evenings, but we also need help at other times, including weekends and overnight.
What about expenses?
We pay all authorised expenses including travel. Meals are also provided when you come to our house
email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0207 485 6639 if you want to talk to someone about volunteering
Street cafe photographs by Barry Hayden