“It's nice to see people go from when they first enter Crisis and might be hesitant to do any sorts of activities in the art classes, and then sometimes even just by the second or third week they're really enjoying it. That's really rewarding – them opening up and sharing what's going on with themselves.
“I've been volunteering for Crisis since April 2022. Mostly in the art rooms, preparing art supplies for members, or just hanging out with them while they're doing art. Then over Christmas I've been packing hampers and taking calls from members to see what they need,” says Jaspreet, who volunteers at the Crisis Skylight in Oxford.
“When I first moved here from Canada, I didn't have a job, so I spent a lot of time exploring Oxford. To me it's such a tiny city so I was really surprised that it could have so many people experiencing homelessness. Then I was looking for things to do and saw an online advert from Crisis for art volunteers. I thought it sounded a lot of fun and a way that I could maybe help the community that I had noticed.
“Everyone's really supportive and welcoming. I had an induction and we talked about ways to interact with members. The art teachers are always present whenever I'm volunteering and after every session they ask ‘Did things go well today? Is there anything you need to talk about?’
“It's nice to sometimes just come in, sit and make conversation with the members and see how their day is going and how things have changed from when you saw them last. The best thing about volunteering here is seeing people's journeys through.
“I wouldn't call myself an artist. I do some crafts, but there's a lot of creative people here, and sometimes you learn new techniques and art skills from them. It's been rewarding, for sure.
“My perceptions about homelessness have changed since I started volunteering with Crisis, and I definitely plan to continue. One thing that I really like about Crisis is that they take care of a person’s physical needs by getting people into housing and helping people who need clothing or food, but we also take care of members’ mental wellbeing. Through things like the art classes, and in Christmas hampers that I’ve been helping put together, we're giving members winter journals so they can use them to write about their thoughts and feelings.
That's what I think makes Crisis special.”
By sharing stories we can change attitudes and build a movement for permanent, positive change. Stand against homelessness and help us end it for good.