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Corin Heney, Volunteering Manager

3rd June 2024

Over 120 of our active volunteers took our annual volunteer survey this spring, to tell us why they volunteer, what they enjoy about volunteering, and to share feedback about what could be improved.

This winter we provided safe and welcoming shelter to 542 people experiencing homelessness, throughout the five coldest months of the year. 134 night shelter guests have moved into more permanent housing, and many continue to work with our caseworkers.

Volunteers are an essential part of the warm welcome we offer guests at the night shelters, alongside the safe shelter itself and the delicious home-cooked food that volunteers prepare. Our volunteers also translate documents, triage guests at our partner day centres, and support in our office.

The volunteer survey showed that our volunteers value talking to guests and creating a welcoming sense of community for them. They also appreciate being able to directly see the impact of the night shelters, their food being enjoyed, and being part of a team effort and the camaraderie that it brings.

Many specifically mentioned the opportunity to show guests compassion and respect and to learn about their experiences – a key part of Glass Door’s ethos that we are proud of, which runs through our services, and which our volunteers embody.

When asked what motivates them to volunteer with Glass Door, one volunteer said:

I have ticked ‘to give something back’ but really it is we as volunteers who get back the most. It is a wonderful evening in the shelters and we receive so much more than we give.

When asked how satisfied they were with their volunteer experience, one volunteer said:

Everyone worked well together! Going the extra mile when needed to make sure our guests were happy and served with the highest level of care and respect.

Summary of what Glass Door volunteers enjoy most about their volunteering:

Many volunteers shared suggestions for how we could improve our services and the volunteering experience. We consider every single suggestion, and some will be implemented next winter, including:

  • Changing up the menus more regularly so guests have a greater variety of meals throughout their stay,
  • More training and guidance for volunteers hearing about guests challenging experiences,
  • The option of pre-paid cards for volunteer food expenses.

We’ll also be simplifying the volunteer registration process, as we know it isn’t as user-friendly as it could be, though this will take longer to make happen.

We asked the volunteers who were part of the women’s night shelter this year how they found it, and on the whole we received very positive feedback. Many volunteers felt they were able to create a safe, calm, and welcoming environment for the women, with many commenting how clearly this allowed the guests to relax and create a community.

The women’s night shelter was fantastic. It had a really warm welcoming atmosphere and you could see the difference it made to guests. It offered a safe and supportive space for them for the night.

Volunteers suggested we share more context about women’s homelessness with them to prepare them for supporting guests who may share distressing experiences, as well as herbal teas being popular – both of which we’ll be making changes based on next winter.  

97% felt supported in their volunteering

99% felt informed about our work

94% were satisfied with their volunteering

I enjoyed building relationships with guests and volunteers, feeling that we were making a difference and that the guests were being treated with warmth and respect.

A huge thank you to everyone who completed the volunteer survey for your insightful and valuable feedback. If you shared some feedback that you’d like to chat about further, please email [email protected].