In a varied and busy role, Jean has been a Shelter volunteer for six years and helps to provide a befriending service in the Aberdeen Hub as well as outreach at the Dundee Hub. She volunteers for around six hours a week and previously volunteered for nine hours a week before the pandemic. She believes that Shelter does vitally important work.
‘If people don’t have a roof over their heads, it’s the most terrible thing.’
Having previously worked in the NHS and the university sector, Jean likes feeling part of a team and has successfully completed over 1000 hours of volunteering for Shelter. She is grateful that Shelter is campaigning to get more safe and affordable housing built.
‘Somebody needs to fly the flag to get local authorities to build more affordable housing.’
Jean enjoyed helping on a big project with Dundee City Council for one year, focusing on people with very high rent arrears, arranging appointments for them to speak with Shelter housing advisers and get financial advice. She really enjoyed being part of a team and helping clients in need.
‘I love it. They are a great team in Dundee. They have always been very supportive.’
Outside of volunteering, Jean loves to read and socialise, as well as walking and keeping up with politics, although she gets frustrated sometimes by politicians.
‘The politicians make promises, but they never seem to happen. I don’t know how we can make it happen.’
Jean volunteered with other charities before joining Shelter and recommends it as a way of helping yourself and your local community. It makes you appreciate what you have in your life and that not everyone is so fortunate.
Volunteering makes you feel good. It makes you look at your life, I’m very lucky. Some of our clients haven’t had any breaks at all. They seem to be fighting for everything.
Through speaking to clients, Jean sees how something like a marriage break up or a bad childhood can affect their lives adversely.
‘For some people, there seems to be obstacles everywhere. It can be one thing that has tipped and made their life very difficult. And that could happen to any of us, we just don’t know what is around the corner.’
When asked if she would recommend becoming a volunteer with Shelter, Jean said: ‘Do it. It will help your mental health and your confidence. You’ll learn new things. Each individual volunteer is giving a little back and together that is a lot!’