My experience volunteering with the Archer Project: we don’t offer help with A, B or C… we just offer to help

A LOT of pasta!

Blog post written by Julia Gregerston about her volunteering with Cathedral Archer Project as part of the Sheffield multi-agency response coordinated by Help Us Help.

I’m currently studying sociology with criminology and loving my course! Criminology has always been an interesting subject and after a year I decided… this is for me! Working within rehabilitation and the prison sector has always intrigued me but this involves high risk and exposure to a huge range of vulnerable individuals with unique characters. Having little experience I started searching for some relevant volunteering opportunities which could gradually allow me to become comfortable around those from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Cathedral Archer Project stood out hugely! Claiming to not only ‘offer help with A,B or C…’, instead they  ‘just offer to help’ meaning there was a huge range of roles to get involved in to help support the homeless and those most vulnerable. 

The week before lockdown I had my first brief trial shift on an early Wednesday morning serving hot breakfast to around 50 people – a much lower number because of covid-19 than the usual expected 80! Yes, 80 people! This means up to 80 people are reliant on the Cathedral Archer Project for a hearty breakfast to start the day; making the volunteering experience so rewarding, knowing you’re making a direct difference to people’s lives. Some were cheeky, pushing for an extra big portion, but all of them were grateful. Breaking the barriers between ourselves and those struggling through hard times is so vital for not only me and my career goals but for everyone as an eye opener to become aware of how much we take for granted in our daily lifestyles.

After just one shift I was eager to return and now I’m volunteering in the kitchen once a week cooking batches of basic meals to be tubbed up and sent off helping the Cathedral Archer Project to continue providing these basic meals. Packed lunches, hot meals and cold meals are persistently being sent out of the door thanks to so many volunteers and the amazing staff. I encourage many more to get involved and join the friendly, selfless environment if not during this pandemic, then once normality eventually returns when hopefully the huge range of programmes such as teaching, provision of wash facilities, laundry services etc. can all become accessible again at the centre. 

Read more about Help Us Help and the agencies which are involved in the Multi-agency response: http://www.helpushelp.uk/blog/our-covid-19-emergency-statement

Donate to local homelessness charities, who are working very hard to support homeless and vulnerable people in Sheffield, on our All In Event fundraising page: https://tinyurl.com/ycn6a2te

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