As part of Jellybean’s 12 Days of Giving initiative, I decided to volunteer at Renewed Hope Trust, a local charity based in Redhill. The charity provides practical and emotional support to the homeless and socially disadvantaged of East Surrey and surrounding areas. Their support is invaluable and really impacts the local community directly, providing overnight shelter, meals, clothing and assistance in finding employment to those in need.
The main centre in Redhill is open every day, year-round providing these services and RHT also runs additional Winter Night Shelters from December to March covering the coldest of winter months. The Winter Night Shelter is a ‘floating’ night shelter hosted in various venues across and surrounding the Reigate, Banstead and Tandridge areas, staffed by trained volunteers who supervise, cook and serve dinner and breakfast, some of whom also stay overnight in the shelters with the guests.
The well-used Drop-In service runs alongside this every weekday all year round. This is run by trained volunteers and shift leaders who sign up for a variety of roles ranging from food providing and cooking, to kitchen assistants, to general drop-in roles which can be everything from assisting in the kitchen, clearing up, talking with guests, and running activities. Having previous experience at my local night shelter venue, I decided to dedicate my time to a day’s Drop-In shift as a kitchen assistant.
I started off the day by laying the table, making hot drinks for the guests and asking what their preferences for lunch were, then helping the shift leader to cook the meals. We served a choice of hot wraps, mini pizzas and savoury pastries, kindly donated by Monty’s Bakehouse, a company that makes food-to-go for airlines. The shelter heavily relies on donations of food, clothing, and toiletries and I was very pleased to see how much the local supermarkets had donated to the charity, such as sandwiches, vegetables and sweet treats, seeing for myself how much of a difference these donations make.
We then chatted and ate lunch with the guests, followed by another cuppa or two with some cakes and biscuits for dessert until it was time to clear up. I was touched by the friendships that the volunteers have formed with the regular guests, and the genuine interest the guests took in me and the volunteers. The sense of companionship and inclusion that exists here is something truly special. On leaving they said they hope to see me back again soon. (That will really stick with me in my mind and has made me want to come back and volunteer again).
After the Drop-In service finished, I was taken around Shrewsbury Chapel, the soon-to-be newly opened Renewed Hope Trust Centre. This fantastic venue is due to be finished at the end of this month and is being fitted with a larger kitchen, toilets, a shower (which the current centre does not have) and a main office upstairs along with space to store food, clothing and toiletries, and a large room that will act as a socialising area and place to eat. The move to the new venue has been made possible by years of fund raising and the continued generosity of the Trust’s supporters, volunteers and associates. Shrewsbury Chapel will continue to provide the Drop-In services that are in such high demand in the local area and I am sure I will be back to see the finished result.
I cannot explain just how rewarding volunteering for this charity is, every small donation, and even a couple of hours of your time makes such a difference to people in need. Unlike some major charities, Renewed Hope Trust relies heavily on the goodwill of its dedicated volunteers and a small number of modestly paid staff. You really see the positive impact that your time and donations have on the lives of those who the Trust touches. I would strongly recommend RHT to anyone looking for meaningful and deeply rewarding charity work over the festive period and beyond.
To find out more about this wonderful charity and how you can help visit, https://rhtes.org/get-involved/
To see examples of fund-raising for RHT see, https://wonderful.org/charity/renewedhopetrust