Volunteering opportunities for the homeless or vulnerably housed in Chester.

Rough sleeping in the UK has increased by 37% since 2010. This year alone, official figures reveal 2,414 people have been living on the streets and it is feared these will increase as cuts to benefits continue.

Stephen Hood, 50, of Hoole, Chester, was once homeless but eventually got his life back with the help of Chester Aid to the Homeless (CATH) but volunteering has been his mainstay ever since. This is one way in which homeless people struggling to find employment can improve their self-esteem, give back to the community and improve their skills.

Stephen Hood standing outside Chester Aid to the Homeless in Chester City Centre

Stephen Hood standing outside Chester Aid to the Homeless in Chester City Centre

CATH is situated at the Harry Tomlin’s Centre in Chester and has a great history of working with volunteers from the local community.  CATH started in 1972 and has always relied on volunteers. Volunteers like Stephen, from their client base, also have the opportunity to help in a variety of ways.

Stephen (Left) and Christopher Goodwin (right) working at Crispin House

Stephen (Left) and Christopher Goodwin (right) working at Crispin House

Stephen volunteers with Christopher Goodwin, project leader of Citizen CATH which is a lottery funded pilot to beautify areas like Crispin House. Crispin House is a shared house offering supported accommodation. Christopher  said: “This project is called Citizen CATH, the idea is through awards for all; it’s about encouraging citizenship groups that are marginalised. Encouraging people in the community to talk and look at each other and to join up and to get involved and be active and feel healthy.” Asked what it is like to work with Stephen he said: “Yeah it’s fantastic, Steve’s been in since day one.”

David Yardley, Adult Tutor at CATH (left) serving tea and toast with Stephen Hood until more volunteers come in

David Yardley, Adult Tutor at CATH (left) serving tea and toast with Stephen Hood until more volunteers come in

CATH plays a vital role for people who live on the streets. Those who have been fortunate enough to find accommodation can still go to CATH for help with finding employment, adult learning skills, clothing and life coaching.

From left to right, Stephen Hood, Christopher Goodwin and John Buchanan volunteering at Clwyd Special Riding School in Wrexham

From left to right, Stephen Hood, Christopher Goodwin and John Buchanan volunteering at Clwyd Special Riding School in Wrexham

Every Friday Stephen joins John Buchanan, Education manager at CATH, to volunteer at Clwyd special riding school in Llanfynydd, Wrexham.

John Buchanan said: “We try to create the condition or the normality that say a college would supply or maybe even a community school or a large family, we try to create that. But we’re actually really small but we still manage to actually present enough opportunities for people to get involved in different areas such as here at Clwyd, football, and activities during the day, computers, there’s a lot of things we can offer. Almost like an alternative curriculum.

We’ve been working every Friday at Clwyd Special riding centre for the disabled for about seven years. Basically Chester Aid to the Homeless client group come who are either vulnerably housed, homeless or people that are in secure tenancy but have mental health problems and still like to engage with our services.”

Asked what it’s like to work with Steve, John replied: “Very entertaining, Steve’s a really good worker, he’s a hard worker, and he’s got good experience and got knowledge of especially maintenance work so he’s very useful in specific areas such as this one, shoring up a fence. He is very enthusiastic, very positive.”

Stephen Hood (left) and Sharon Phillips (Right) at St. Marks Church Cafe, Saltney/Lache

Stephen Hood (left) and Sharon Phillips (Right) at St. Marks Church Cafe, Saltney/Lache

Thursdays Stephen volunteers at St. Marks Church, St. Marks Road, Lache/Saltney, Chester. Sharon Phillips said: “Steve comes in and prepares all the salads and preps everything for us; he’ll do dishes, basically Steve will do anything that we require him to do. He’s a very handy man; he’ll put his hand to anything basically. He fixes our fan every week and we’re in the process of getting that replaced.

There are lots of voluntary opportunities here, we feel for the homeless but not in a patronising way. We’re blessed to have what we’ve got, some people whatever reason they are homeless, we try and help them to either get back onto their feet or just take them in. At the end of the day it’s not their fault.

The Cafe is good food and good company and it’s for people to come and mingle and mix, you know it’s kind of an outreach as well.”

3 thoughts on “Volunteering opportunities for the homeless or vulnerably housed in Chester.

  1. Pingback: Volunteering opportunities for the homeless or vulnerably housed in Chester. | TRACEY LOK

  2. Hello Tracy. I knew Christopher Goodwin 30 years ago when I was a student on the Wirral. I am a chef and and I moved around a lot with my job. I lost touch with most of my friends as we didn’t have internet back then. Recently I have been back in touch with some friends from the Wirral. We would like to get in touch with Christopher again. I understand that this may be a difficult situation for someone who has been homeless for so long. Please tell Christopher that ‘the flame haired chick with the chewy nose’ would really like to have a cup of tea with him sometime. He was a great inspiration to me in my art work and my life.. He has been in my thoughts always over the years that we have ‘lost’.
    I appreciate any help that you can give me to be able to meet Christopher again.
    My phone number is 07895623048
    I hope to hear from you soon
    Stephanie Morrison

    • Hi Stephanie. So sorry I’ve only just seen your message. I have not seen Chris for a while because I am working now so gave up volunteering at CATH. Chris actually works there for CATH, at least he was when I left. You can phone CATH and hopefully they will put you on to him. Yes he is a great person and lots of fun. He is supporting many of the homeless at CATH in various ways. The phone number for the office is 01244 409158. If I do see him I will certainly pass on your details.
      Take care
      Tracey Lok

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