'You go to bed knowing you’ve made a difference.'

'You go to bed knowing you’ve made a difference.'

Claire is a Triage Support Volunteer in the Advice Support and Guidance team in Norwich. She started volunteering with Shelter in October 2021 after seeking a suitable volunteering role in the charity sector that would help her make a positive impact on the lives of others.

She loves her supporting role and helping people through ‘crisis to settled.’ Her varied role involves liaising with trained housing advisors and clients. ‘Sometimes you don’t know the answer so honesty is important. I can go back and ask. I’m always learning.’

Claire works with clients who find themselves homeless through no fault of their own. 

Sometimes it’s not even adversity that has put you in a homeless situation. It can be that someone needs their home back for their own personal reasons.

‘Anyone who rents is a section 21 notice away from homelessness.’

Claire has learned so much during her time volunteering with Shelter. She has developed skills in connecting clients with different networks and services, and appreciates the work that they do ‘running on the heart and getting paid secondly’ sometimes.

‘Ultimately, my goal is to help and be there for people. When the pandemic struck, it was a very lonely and isolating time for everybody. Homelessness is a big thing for me because if you don’t have a safe and secure home in life, nothing else works.’

Volunteering with Shelter aligns with Claire’s values and lived experience of homelessness – being housed just two weeks before having a baby herself, she understands how important it is to have a safe, comfortable, and affordable home.

‘Everybody has a fundamental right to a home and I want to be part of a team that makes that happen.

Volunteering with Shelter provides Claire with the opportunity to give back to those most in need. ‘My favourite thing is to call clients. I love holding their hands from far away…because I’ve been there. It’s a pleasure to give back.’

While Claire has experience of being homeless, she stresses how important it is to listen with empathy and to offer practical support and guidance to every client.

‘We’re speaking to people at very vulnerable stages of their lives. It’s about listening. It’s not about me.

When asked for a ‘stand out moment’ from volunteering, Claire recalls an older person that she supported. They had no home and were forced to live in a hotel without their beloved dog. When Claire found out they were getting the keys to their new home and would be reunited with their dog she was overjoyed. ‘To help people through crisis to settled, I love being that support.’

As well as volunteering with Shelter, Claire is studying for a Psychology degree at the Open University. She loves learning and volunteering at Shelter and appreciates the opportunity to help people in need, and knowing that she makes a real difference every day.

‘I would absolutely recommend volunteering for Shelter, I can’t think of a better place to volunteer.