“I was a long-term volunteer as a peer mentor with the Cyrenians at the residential city community in Edinburgh, supporting people who have experienced homelessness.
“It was a very challenging project, sometimes a lot more than I expected and was prepared for. Yet, in many ways it was also more rewarding and dynamic that I thought. I met a lot of great people and had a lot of support from our international team of volunteers, the staff and even people at IVS offering mentorship and advice. I lived and worked with young people that tend to be difficult and unpredictable in many ways and I simply tried to do the only thing I could do for them – I was constantly looking for solutions and new ways of offering them support or finding the best option for them to move on.
“During my time on the work camp, I saw a 1968 film about the first Cyrenians community in the city and the philosophy behind it. It is amazing that the idea of working with people marginalized and labelled by most as misfits in a way that sees them as humans in need has been sustained in this organization for so many years and I see that genuine belief in people working there, despite all the problems they face, day in and day out.
“Volunteering opens up a different world to you and gives you a sense of purpose. It’s a great way to meet people, hear different stories, gain a new perspective and learn to appreciate things you used to take for granted. It can be a fun new way to travel and make friends or a truly life-changing experience that makes you a more active and involved person, building deeper connections with people around you.”
Visit the website www.ivsgb.org to find out more about volunteering opportunities available in Great Britain.
Rozalia, from Bulgaria, volunteered for 9 months at homeless charity the Cyrenians, Edinburgh (2015)