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Zehra's Story

  1. Tell us about your role volunteering for Crisis

My role is Community Engagement Volunteer and I have been doing it for about 8 months. It involves going out into the local community and speaking to groups. I like to focus on Scout, Guides and Cubs as this is where the opportunities are in my local area. And I’m used to visiting these groups with my children and I like engaging with younger people. They are great to visit, and I love it.

  1. What's a typical volunteering day for you?

I usually present to children between the ages of 5-16, and the groups tend to be split into under and over 8s. I really enjoy doing an activity or playing games, or with younger children drawing and colouring. I tailor my presentations to the ages so it fits them and is not overwhelming, or they can’t comprehend the themes. And I always get a Q&A in at the end. I have to keep them engaged throughout and like to use videos. My talks are generally about what ‘Home’ means to them and the causes of homelessness and how they can help.

  1. What type of questions have you been asked?

‘Why do people have dogs’ is a popular one! I had one about the proportion of women to men, which I couldn’t answer but went away and found out. The questions always prompt interesting conversations. When asked about why people sit outside McDonalds, I turned it into a conversation by asking them where they would sit and what are the dangers? Different ages have different types of questions. What do people do when it snows, or when it is really hot, or they tell little stories about what they see.

  1. What made you decide to come and volunteer with us?

I have been donating monthly for about 5 years and I wanted to go beyond that. Over the past year I have had a bit more time as my children get older and I’m not doing the school run or driving to after school clubs. During Covid [pandemic] I did some volunteering with the NHS and that sparked in me that I could do more. I want to make a bit more of a difference. A big part of my role is communicating and I can use these skills for a good cause.

  1. What moments do you remember most?

A great question from a lad who was about 14. He asked what the government can do to change homelessness which sparked lots of conversations.

  1. Is there anything that stands out as something you've learned from your volunteering experiences?

How engaged younger people are. So much more engaged than what you think they would be. You can make a difference. If I hadn’t spoken to a Cubs group would they have gone on to fundraise? An individual can make a difference!

  1. What advice would you pass on to someone who is looking to volunteer? 

Just go for it. If you have reservations about ‘can I commit, or will I let anyone down’, just make a start. You get so much out of it, even if you just have 1 hour or 2 over a month, you make a difference and get so much out of it.

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.