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Posted 10 March 2020

Trevor Huggins making lasagna

by Trevor Huggins

It’s strange to think about a basic principle of Buddhism when you volunteer for a charity rooted in the Christian church. But for me, the idea that helping others is also key to your own wellbeing[1] is a convincing one after only a few seasons with Glass Door.

Like most volunteers, I joined simply to help people who clearly needed it. A good meal, a safe place to sleep and a chance to talk to other people – these should be human rights, rather than acts of charity. Signing up, I expected to cook, serve and chat to guests who wanted to chat, and to respect the reserve of people who sit quietly, and talk quietly.

What I didn’t expect is just how much you get back from playing even a fleeting role in their lives. Nobody told me about the bounce in your step after four or five hours at the shelter on a Sunday, helping to make the day just a little better for people who don't have many, if any, good days. And nobody told me how good it feels to be part of a much bigger team.

A community effort

At Teddington, we have the local community behind us. Flowers on the table, folded napkins, organic fruit and vegetables, a selection of breads and patisseries, a choice of main courses and desserts; small things to make people feel wanted. Almost everything is donated by local businesses, while the desserts are all homemade by locals. Our recently-elected MP Munira Wilson has even put in a shift.

It was the same feeling last October, settling down with friend and fellow Teddington volunteer Paul Hoffman, along with some 300 others, for the Glass Door Sleep Out. We didn’t solve the problem of homelessness in London that night. But we raised money that will take some people out of harm’s way and will give others a new start in life.

Trevor with fellow sleep out participant Paul Hoffman

photo: Trevor with fellow sleep out participant Paul Hoffman

I’m grateful to Glass Door for giving me the chance to help, and to play a very small part in making a difference to a day in the life of the people we support.

I’ll never be able to cook enough vegetarian lasagnes to make up for that positive feeling after serving at Glass Door ... and I make a lot of vegetarian lasagne.


[1] “Helping others is the best way to help yourself, the best way to promote your own happiness”

- Dalai Lama