Volunteering at Caring in Bristol
Last week, Katie and I spent a day volunteering with Caring in Bristol which is a charity based in St Pauls that works with homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol. The charity's main focus used to be providing support at Christmas, and due to a growing demand for support and services the structure was changed in July 2013. Caring in Bristol now provides year-round support in the form of a survival guide for anyone who has become or is at risk of becoming homeless. They also provide a service called Bristol Nightstop which provides temporary accommodation for young homeless people. In the Christmas week the charity runs the Caring at Christmas project which provides amenities, medical services, food and entertainment to around 100 people during the day. During the night-time, they provide accommodation for around 50 people.
It was the Caring at Christmas project which we were mainly helping with. Our day started with an introduction and cup of tea with Ed, the project lead, and we were then given a tour of the building which is shared with the charity Julian Trust. Our first task was to catalogue all the DVDs which had been donated and then sort by various criteria so that the films could be easily found. We then checked the donated board games to ensure they were all complete and playable, which fortunately almost all of them were.
After lunch we went down to the room where donated items are sorted. The charity is already receiving donations such as toiletries, food and clothes for use with Caring at Christmas but will need a lot more before the Christmas period. A new system was being trialled where the clothes are initially sorted into set piles depending on what type of item they are and if they are of the desired quality. They will then be transferred to the second stage where further sorting will be done. This system seemed to work well and we were able to offer feedback on what the categories should consist of.
Lastly we sorted through donated toiletries – at first sight the hundreds of bottles were slightly daunting but with the help of Phil, one of the Caring in Bristol team, we were able to sort them into the required categories.
At the end of the day we had another cup of tea and a chat to some of the team who were all very welcoming and answered any questions we had. Both Katie and I enjoyed our day with Caring in Bristol and thought the work they do is very valuable. Due to this we have applied to do some shifts over the Christmas period.
For more information about the charity and details of what is needed in the form of donations, please visit their website: http://caringinbristol.co.uk/