‘Volunteering has helped give me a sense of identity and belonging’ – Wendy’s story

Published: by Mark O'Loughlin

Wendy volunteers at the Shelter shop in Coals Drop Yard, Kings Cross, London. Her volunteer role involves creating and managing social media posts, processing payments, and sorting and arranging donations.

Wendy started volunteering for Shelter in the summer of 2022, initially at the shop on Holloway Road. She is also a first-year student in graphic communication design at Central Saint Martins and a signed fashion model and recently worked at London Fashion Week.

Wendy has previous experience working with children who are homeless in her home country, China.

‘Before coming to London, I volunteered for a charity at a street children’s aid station by arranging visual arts and music therapy sessions.’

‘Charity shops are not common in China,’ Wendy says, and when she discovered Shelter, she realised that she could continue volunteering to help people who are homeless during her time in London. She now volunteers, on average, two hours every week.

‘As an international student, coming to a foreign country, volunteering has helped give me a sense of identity and belonging, and I feel like I’m doing something positive for society.’

Doing social media for the Kings Cross shop also enables Wendy to use her graphic design skills while making a valuable contribution to Shelter’s mission.

‘All the staff and customers in the shop are very nice and I’m just very glad to be in an environment that is so full of energy and love. I just feel so happy to be there.’

Wendy appreciates the opportunity to try new things and learn new skills by volunteering with Shelter. She also enjoys helping contribute to the profitability of the shop, as well as the opportunity to improve her language skills.

‘English is my second language and it’s really good to have the opportunity to practice.’

Wendy highly recommends volunteering with Shelter and does her best to encourage others to do the same. A friend from the USA, on a visit for a month to London at Christmas, was even encouraged to join Wendy as a volunteer at the shop. ‘She enjoyed the experience at Shelter a lot!’ exclaims Wendy.

She expressed how much her knowledge about the housing emergency has grown during her time at Shelter.

‘Before volunteering with Shelter, I only knew about homelessness in quite a narrow sense. Then I realised that even if people have somewhere to live, they can still be struggling with housing issues.’

Visit volunteer for Shelter to find out how you can get involved in defending the right to a safe home.