UK | Homeless Shelter Volunteer | Rabie

Rabie, a 30-year-old volunteer from Algeria, is currently three months into a one-year placement at Streetlife, a homeless shelter in Blackpool, England. He discovered this opportunity through New Ventures Worldwide, which he found online. His responsibilities at the shelter include assisting with daily operations, such as cleaning, signing in clients, buying food, and occasionally cooking and serving meals. The job involves long periods of inactivity followed by sudden bursts of activity. Building rapport with the service users is crucial, so Rabie often engages them in games, discussions about current events, movies, and life advice to lift their spirits.

Working with homeless people presents challenges such as slow relationship-building and high demands for food and services beyond the shelter’s budget. Managing expectations requires self-confidence and patience. Constant communication with clients who have diverse needs, including mental health and health issues, can be mentally taxing, necessitating flexibility and patience. Despite the challenges, Rabie finds joy in working with his incredible colleagues, mostly locals from Blackpool, who bring humour and new highlights to each day.

“Working here has taught me the importance of patience and communication, as I help with various tasks and connect with service users on a personal level.”

Motivation to Volunteer

Rabie was driven by a desire to travel, discover a new country, and make a positive impact on others’ lives. He sought to learn new skills, make friends, and meet people from different cultures through his volunteering experience.

“I wanted to travel and immerse myself in a new culture while making a difference in people’s lives and expanding my own horizons.”

Living Away for the First Time

Living away from home for the first time has been a rewarding experience for Rabie. He has learned to be strong, take on responsibilities, develop resilience, and manage his own time. He appreciates the lifestyle, culture, and practical setup of England, including the easy transportation and shops. Rabie also notes that despite cultural differences, people around the world share common desires and aspirations.

“Living in England has taught me a lot about myself and the world, showing me that at our core, people everywhere share the same fundamental desires.”

Food and Accommodation

Rabie is pleased with his accommodation, a comfortable private bedroom in a spacious shared house with other volunteers. The multicultural environment presents some challenges due to differing schedules and priorities. He has observed that people in England consume a lot of frozen food, while he prefers to prepare fresh meals in the large kitchen. Streetlife provides meals like curry, fish and chips, and full English breakfasts on weekends, but Rabie also brings his own food depending on his mood.

“My living situation is comfortable and diverse, allowing me to learn about different cultures while enjoying both local and homemade meals.”

Experience with NVW

Rabie feels very supported by the Programme Manager at NVW, who helped him understand his role and the entire process, including the visa paperwork. This support made him feel fully prepared for his placement, and he rates NVW ten out of ten for their assistance.

“The support from NVW has been exceptional, making me feel fully prepared and confident in my role here.”

Personal Growth and Future Aspirations

Rabie has acquired numerous new skills, particularly in managing the unique challenges faced by homeless individuals, especially those aged 16-25 who require extra patience. He believes this experience will positively impact his professional future. While he was a sales manager in Algeria, he now feels motivated to approach his career with a fresh perspective and a desire to help others.

“This experience has enriched my skill set and given me a renewed sense of purpose and motivation for my professional future.”

Advice for Aspiring Volunteers

Rabie views volunteering as a once-in-a-lifetime experience that brings immense personal growth despite its challenges. Moving to a new country to undertake unfamiliar work is difficult, but the rewards are worth it, especially the amazing people you meet and learn from.

“Volunteering abroad is challenging but incredibly rewarding. The personal growth and the inspiring people you meet make it an invaluable experience.”