I started volunteering for Emmaus Glasgow more than 16 years ago. One of my friends was already volunteering for them at the time, and from they way that she described her voluntary work, it made me think that it was something that I wanted to get involved in. I have been part of the outreach programme since.
Every Wednesday the lads at Emmaus come and pick me up at 8pm. We load the van up and head to the city centre and set up the table full of soup, sandwiches and rolls. We have plastic bags with us so that we can provide those who are street homeless with items to take away. The food is kindly donated by Sainsbury’s and Pret a Manager. Students from the university have joined us in recent years, and they bring with them hot chocolate, tea and coffee as well as juice and water. Come rain, sunshine or snow, we are there every Wednesday, 9pm – 10pm feeding and talking to the people who are still sleeping on the streets.
I am born and raised in Glasgow and the changes I have seen in homelessness over the years have become worse, not better. Even the big organisations recognise that there is a growing issue as they donate their leftover food rather than throwing it away. It is a travesty that there are more people using our outreach programme than when we first started it all those years ago. For many people who visit us, it isn’t just about the food, we are probably the first person they have spoken to all day, and in some cases days.
Volunteering with Emmaus Glasgow is my life. Now that I am retired, I make sure I am there every week without fail. Emmaus is an amazing charity and there’s nothing else quite like it out there. The lads that come pick me up have been working all day, and then they go out of their way in their spare-time to talk to those who are still living on the streets. As they have been there themselves, they know how desolate it can be. Especially when you have no friends or family.
I hope to be doing this for a good few more years and would say to anyone thinking of volunteering with Emmaus Glasgow to give it a go. It changed my life and it is the only thing I want to be doing in my retirement. Not only do you get to help people who are truly struggling, but you get to be a part of something bigger, part of a movement that is genuinely helping people who desperately need it.