Lauren works for Evolve in the Fundraising Team and she also recently volunteered to help with a series of creative writing workshops run at Alexandra House.
To celebrate volunteers’ week, we are sharing her story:
‘I decided to volunteer for Evolve because I’ve always had an interest in creative writing and I volunteer for other charities such as the Ministry of Stories in my spare time so I thought why not do the same for the charity I actually work for?. It just seemed like a good way to get to know customers as well. I spend most of my time at Head Office, so it meant that I could go to one of the services on a weekly basis to work with customers more directly.
As for my own creative writing, it helped motivate me to develop my own skills and inspire my writing. The course was set up as part of the existing Health and Wellbeing programme as way for customers to express themselves and develop their personal creativity and ideas through writing e.g. poems, rap lyrics, stories etc.
The workshop content was designed by Aileen O’Farrell, Change Manager, Coach and Writer who also volunteered co-facilitating the sessions. The aim was to cover a range of topics including plots, dialogue and characters using activities, discussion and by looking at other pieces of writing.
The group was open to all customers- whether they were looking to get in to creative writing or if they had been writing for years. It was a way for them to explore their skills, develop their styles and confidence and find out what form of writing they enjoyed.
It was also a great opportunity for them to meet other customers who shared their passion for writing.
I really benefitted from volunteering for Evolve because even if I was tired after work, I still felt incredibly energised in the evening. It didn’t feel like doing a late shift, in fact, as soon as I arrived at the workshop, I felt more energetic than if I’d gone straight home after work.
I think one of the main highlights for me was seeing how happy and enthusiastic customers were to read out their own work and how encouraging they were in their support of others’ writing. They would applaud and give really positive feedback to each other. It felt really natural as well – it was a very relaxed environment.
Over the space of the six sessions, the course had such a positive effect on the customers too. The customers who regularly attended often said that they looked forward to coming along to the workshops and that it was an environment that they felt calm and a space to be creative. At the end of the course, each customer had at least six pieces which they had worked on (and one of the customers’ poems will be featured in the next customer newsletter). As for their wellbeing, they felt more encouraged, sand I think the customers will carry on due to the support and positive feedback that they received.
I would recommend volunteering for Evolve as it is a great chance to help out in the community, whether you’re a staff member or someone who lives locally with an interest in helping homeless people in Croydon, and it’s always fun as well.
The customers who came to the workshops were so talented and it was great to be part of that encouragement and good to see their talent and to see them express it where they might not get the opportunity to otherwise.’
If you are interested in volunteering to help homeless people in London, please see our volunteering page. If you would like to work with a homeless charity like Evolve, please see our vacancies page.