VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT IS NOW LIVE FOR WINTER 2021-22!
Thank you so much for your interest in volunteering with us, we can only do what we do because of the goodwill of wonderful volunteers from across Milton Keynes. We are so pleased to be able to open our Night Shelter again this winter, alongside several other elements of wraparound care. Every year our guests tell us how grateful they are to find support like this when they are at a point of crisis, and the kindness and compassion of our volunteers lifts their spirits when they are at their lowest. Every year too we have volunteers tell us how much volunteering enriches their life and how much they enjoyed their experience.
There are a few important things we need to tell you about, so please bear with it and read through until you reach the application forms further down this page.
It is clear that this winter is going to be a tough one for many people and we are expecting that many people who find themselves in crisis will continue to turn to us for help. Throughout the summer we have had an average of 100 individuals a week accessing support from our centre, Unity Park Station (the old bus station on Elder Gate), which is unprecedented. Our welfare team work with our homeless guests to provide support and pathways out of homeless into longer term accommodation and our volunteer-led services all work alongside this to provide a vital package of wraparound care.
Due to levels of need and new ways of working our operations look a little different to previous years and we are seeking to recruit volunteers for a greater variety of roles than ever before. Below are descriptions of six different areas where we have volunteer opportunities.
The application forms list available roles along with their locations and shift times; we hope you find an area in which you are able to serve. Our forms will be updated as our rotas become filled so that our forms reflect the remaining vacancies. Shifts typically require a few hours every fortnight.
Most of the opportunities are on-site roles at Unity Park Station or one of our overnight venues, but there are some opportunities for helping remotely such as laundering bedding for the night shelter or operating as a cook in the community.
Before you sign up and indicate your availability, we would like you to be aware of the following points:
- The WNSMK is a volunteer-led operation with a small part-time staff team facilitating what we do. Our ability to offer each element of our provision is dependent upon enough volunteers stepping forward to fill the necessary roles.
- We have designed our services and their operating procedures very carefully, with safety and Covid precautions as paramount considerations in light of guidance from government and Public Health England. We encourage everyone to get the vaccinations to which they are entitled and we also link with the NHS to assist the homeless to access vaccinations. We will be asking all volunteers to take a LFD test at home, on the day of their shift, as part of our Covid management and that volunteers should only attend their shift if they have a negative result. This is important to keep everybody safe, especially the vulnerable people we help.
- This year we need to fill a lot of additional cleaning roles as part of our Covid precautions to keep everyone safe. This is especially important to protect our guests, as it is common for homeless people to have compromised immune systems and/or be prone to respiratory problems due to the conditions of rough sleeping, plus we may find ourselves caring for people whose vaccination status is unclear. These additional cleaning roles are essential and if not enough people volunteer to help with cleaning then we may be unable to offer certain elements of our provision, so we would encourage you to volunteer for the greater good, even if cleaning is not your favourite thing! Once teams are established it may be possible for duties to be shared or rotated within the team over time.
- We are still operating in a very uncertain environment and our ability to move forward with even the best laid plans will also depend on factors outside of our control, such as changes to government advice/restrictions and decisions taken by the Council regarding their own operations this winter.
For each of the below services we are also recruiting a bank of ad hoc reserve volunteers to be available to help on a more occasional basis if regular volunteers are unable to attend. If you would like to help but cannot commit to regular attendance then please fill out the relevant application form for your area(s) of interest and select ‘Other’ under the available options for frequency of volunteering.
We hope you are able to join us this winter as we seek to support the homeless and vulnerable and help them to rebuild their lives. Thank you.
We are currently recruiting for the following areas:
- The Night Shelter (supervised overnight accommodation)
This will be a redesigned night shelter service for rough sleepers shared between four venues in the city (rather than the 14 churches and community centres that usually partner with us). This is to allow for use of the larger venues (to allow for distancing between guests and/or use of multiple rooms) with reduced rotation and enhanced cleaning procedures. Our active venues this year are the Ridgeway Centre (Wolverton), Newport Pagnell Baptist Church, Water Eaton Churches Centre (Bletchley) and Christ the Vine (Coffee Hall).
Our homeless guests gather at our evening reception café at Unity Park Station, are driven to the overnight venue and brought back early in the morning. To run this service we require volunteers to be based at our church venues to clean, set up beds, cook evening meals, meet and greet/socialise, supervise overnight, pack down, clean and launder bedding. For further details please see the registration form.
- Evening reception cafe and early morning locker access at Unity Park Station to support the Night Shelter service.
Our guests arrive at UPS from 5.30pm and stay until around 7.15pm when they are taken to their overnight venue. They are welcomed and triaged on arrival (a process supported by a member of our Welfare Team) and their time at the reception cafe is a chance to warm up, have refreshments, relax/socialise and access showers and laundry facilities. For any guests who have had a difficult day, this is an important time to unwind and feel cared for by our volunteers before moving on to their overnight accommodation. Guests are bussed back to UPS early in the morning where they will be able to access lockers and a ‘grab-bag’ breakfast before going about their day.
We have volunteer opportunities to operate the evening café from 5pm-7.30pm each night of the week. We also require locker attendants, kitchen and cleaning volunteers to support the early morning welcome service. For further details please see the registration form.
- Evening support to the MK Council’s rough sleeper provision
MK Council have announced they will be providing supervised overnight accommodation for up to 18 people on the first floor of the old bus station (Unity Park Station) building. (This replaces their previous ‘Hub’ provision in Bletchley so our night shelter provision will still be needed for additional capacity and to help the people the council are unable to help.) We are planning to provide support by allowing the Council to use our UPS facilities downstairs as a base for evening meals and social time alongside our Night Shelter guests. Once the Night Shelter guests have departed for their overnight venue the Council guests will be served an evening meal.
The volunteer shifts are 7.15pm-9.15pm, each night of the week.
We have agreed to support the Council by acting as a conduit for recruiting the volunteers they will need to enable this service, but the Council will be responsible for managing these volunteer teams (including kitchen duty, cleaning, food service and guest interaction). For further details please see the registration form.
- Daytime Takeaway Food Service (Mondays only)
We are continuing our takeaway food service to help support the vulnerable people who come to us but don’t fall into the category of a shelter guest. This complements the food already available via Community Club sessions and the Food Bank collection service on other days.
We are requiring help in the kitchen, with food service and cleaning on Mondays from 9.30am-2pm. For further details please see the registration form.
- Cooks in the Community
We have opportunities for people who would like to help by cooking from their home or other suitable off-site venue, as we will need a number of meals to be served from UPS each day and evening. As a volunteer cook we will require you to complete an online Level 2 Food and Hygiene Certificate (unless you already hold one) and can provide details for this at no cost to yourself. For further details please see the registration form.
- Support to the MK Food Bank collection point service (Wednesday and Thursday afternoons)
Unit Park Station operates as a MK Food Bank collection point on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for referred people in need of food parcels. We support them by acting as a conduit for recruiting the volunteers they need and creating the rotas. All volunteers must also complete MK Food Bank application paperwork and agree to their volunteering code of conduct – this is a really quick process and someone from our Ops Team will be able to share the relevant details after you have registered your interest here.
Shifts are Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2pm-4.30pm. Volunteers are needed to work in teams to organise food supplies and issue food parcels to Food Bank clients.
For further details please see the registration form.
Reception café and base for daytime support services:
Unity Park Station (formerly The Old Bus Station), 401 Elder Gate, Milton Keynes, MK9 1LR.
The Ridgeway Centre, Featherstone Road, Wolverton Mill South, Milton Keynes, MK12 5TH.
Charity Reference No. 1149480
Registered Company No. 08232340