January is often a time for creating resolutions and reflecting on the things we have, or want, in our lives. One of my resolutions was to volunteer more and I recently experienced a day helping at a local homeless centre. It has really opened my eyes to how we treat one another and how the choices we make in life can affect us and those around us.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day helping to serve hot food and drinks, greet the homeless clients and learn about the process for hostel/housing allocations. But my main priority was to talk to as many people as possible and simply listen to their stories, if they wanted to share with me.
One homeless client in particular stood out for me. When I began talking to him he admitted he’d made some bad decisions in his life and is trying so hard to make amends. We talked about possible solutions for his situation and also what made him happy. He loved to write music and I suggested, even at this very difficult time, for him to write down some lyrics, I made him smile and he said I’d made his day!
I do not like to judge a book by its cover and this experience has really highlighted to me that the choices we make in life on a day-to-day basis can have huge consequences.
Manners don’t cost anything. I was making a homeless client a cup of coffee and some toast and offered to take it over when it was ready. I kept to my word and I received no thanks at all. The next homeless client wanted a milky cup of tea. I made the tea exactly to their liking and they were so very grateful.
The whole experience was inspiring and my take away thoughts to share are to take time to really listen to what our clients’ want so we can provide truly exceptional and memorable service. Even if they’re having a bad day and taking it out on you, it is not normally personal and they just want to off-load their emotional burdens. Take steps to volunteer at a local charity through work or somewhere close to your heart. You will not regret it.
My day of volunteering really made me zone-in on how lucky I am and I believe all of us would benefit from any volunteering experience. We are all very fortunate compared to many people out there and it is so rewarding to give back to the community. Who knows, one of us may need a little help ourselves one day.
Amanda Channon is a Customer Liaison Officer for Mitie Client Services