‘Without us, there would be a lot more people who are homeless’: Max’s volunteering story

Published: by Emma Parke

Max volunteers at our Norfolk hub in Norwich, supporting our services team, and has been volunteering there since December last year. 

While Max is relatively new, he has already made a significant impact completing admin tasks at the hub supporting Susie Anderson, Housing Rights Worker, which he does for two hours per week. Max also regularly works with Maya Brodie-Dowden, Regional Community Fundraiser, on the Fight For Home campaign and with the community volunteers, helping raise awareness and funds.

Ever since I joined, I feel very keen to be involved. I have produced some great work for this organisation, and I hope to continue to the best ability I possibly can with my sight condition.

Volunteering has helped Max practise timekeeping, interpersonal skills, dressing for an office environment, and remembering to bring his equipment. Living with a sight condition, Max makes use of assistive technology which has been important for carrying out his role, the programme JAWS (Job Access With Speech) and Windows magnification are particularly useful for Max to carry out his admin tasks.

Enthusiastic about keeping fit, when he’s not volunteering, you’ll find Max on country walks, swimming, or at the gym. Max currently lives in supported accommodation and enjoys an active social life, taking part in activities within his community, and socialising with other residents. Max hasn’t experienced homelessness or unsuitable and unsafe housing, but he feels empathy towards people experiencing or facing homelessness.

It’s not right. It’s not fair and it shouldn’t be happening.

He was disheartened to learn that last year at Christmas there were 3,000 people in Norfolk who were homeless, but he was determined to help. In December, he accompanied Maya on bucket collections to raise donations and awareness of the issue. He said:

This is the thing I’m really keen on because we’re making a difference in the lives of people who are homeless, and this is what we need to continue to do at Shelter.

They raised over £200 across two days, something Max takes great pride in and notes as one of his standout moments from volunteering, due to the effort he made to promote Shelter by distributing many leaflets and posters containing key information.

Max decided to volunteer at Shelter as he felt he wanted to do something not only for himself, but for many people across Norfolk – from Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth, and to Wroxham and Cromer. He achieves a sense of satisfaction in volunteering to help people who are in desperate need of a home, and the reassurance and stability a place to live affords.

Without us, there would be a lot more people who are homeless out there and that’s why I wanted to come and volunteer and help Susie with the admin and the post.

By supporting colleagues at Shelter Norfolk, he freed up more of their time for delivering the vital services they provide to the people who reach out for help. Not only does Max positively impact the lives of others, but by volunteering, Max sees the benefits it has made to his own wellbeing.

‘For me, it has given me different tasks to do in the day.  it’s given me a sense of achievement and is also making other people realise that others living with sight loss can actually be on their own doing things.’

Max likes being able to come into the hub and get on with his tasks, without needing someone to show him what to do each time. For Max, contributing something independently is a meaningful part of his volunteering. Completing admin tasks is one of Max’s favourite parts of volunteering, as well as going out with Maya and telling people in the town or the city about Shelter – that it is there and can help.

To spread the word is the most important thing.

Max says that promoting Shelter is the best way to raise funds and raise our profile.

‘We need to encourage that more and more and more and more as time progresses.’

Max recalls how during his induction he had another standout moment watching informational videos that showed some of the terrible housing small children must live in, and how big the opportunity was for him to help.

I’ve gone forward for something I never thought I would have done a couple of months ago before researching Shelter Norfolk.

Of all the things Max wants people to know about his experience volunteering it would be:

The team are very accepting of the fact that there are people with different disabilities. They do their utmost to accommodate anybody and they really do explain things to the best of their abilities, and I can’t fault them. If anybody was hoping to come to do any volunteering here, I would urge them to because you would be making a great difference to Shelter Norfolk, and it would be so great to have anybody who would like to join the team. You would be more than welcome.