A day in the life of an Open Door volunteer
I arrive at 08:45 as usual to find that two other volunteers have started work getting the place ready for breakfast. Filling water jugs, making sure we have enough food and deciding the menu for the day. We grab a cuppa and catch up on our news from the last week, comparing weekends, holidays taken and family events. During that time we keep busy, peeling and chopping onions, cooking sausages and in no time we are ready for our daily briefing from Chrissy, letting us know what has been happening and any decisions that have been made.
09:30 and breakfast begins. Today we are offering tea or coffee with eggs, tomatoes, beans and sausages with toast. Some of the homeless men and women look very cold and tired after a showery and cool weekend outside. Many of them express their gratitude for the food and drink, and are happy to chat about what is going on for them. Having volunteered at Open Door for a while I know about half of the customers by name, and enjoy catching up with them.
10:30 and we serve the 25th, and last, breakfast for today. By now many of the clients have had a shower, got their clothes in the laundry and are enjoying a leisurely second or third cup of coffee.
10:45 and its time for us volunteers to take a short break. We sit with some of the clients and have a chat.
11:00 and its time to get the lunch on. Today its cottage pie with vegetables, followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. The generosity of people and businesses in Taunton is so impressive, and tests our culinary skills! The rhubarb that was dropped in this morning from a supporter’s allotment looks great!
12:00 and its time to start serving lunch. A few people who missed breakfast are so hungry, and so glad to eat! One person doesn’t like rhubarb so we quickly open a tin of rice pudding. In no time its 12:30 and lunch ends with 20 people having eaten.
By 13:00 we have cleaned up and are ready to go home with the feeling of a job well done. My legs are tired but I feel satisfied and am already looking forward to next week. I know that I am likely to see some of the clients in town over the next week and look forward to their friendly greetings. As I walk home I reflect that a year ago I felt unsure what I could do to help people whose lives have fallen to pieces, I also felt rather nervous in town when homeless people were around. It’s so good to work with friendly staff and volunteers, get to know the clients and know that I have done something worthwhile.