Paul came across the Jesus Centre when he was at the “lowest point” in his life. He felt instantly at home and now volunteers twice a week in the drop-in. We asked him a few questions about what it’s like volunteering here.
How did you first come into contact with the Jesus Centre and why did you decide to start volunteering?
I was in a horrible place; I had lost everything. I felt so trapped. I developed an addiction while living on the streets, so I ended up in a rehab. It was awful, probably the lowest point of my life so far. I realised how vulnerable I was.
At that time I used to come and sit on a step (near to the Jesus Centre), and one day I noticed my name spray painted on a wall. I went to have a look and also found the Jesus Centre. A while later, it was a really hot day and I decided to go into the Jesus Centre to use the toilet and see what it was like.
I walked in and got chatting to Jon-Jon. I felt really comfortable with him. I knew I needed help and I needed focus. So, later on, I asked about volunteering. It was my first step in getting out of rehab. I wanted to do it – I felt like I could relate to the guys that were coming here. I started volunteering twice a week and it was like engaging with the world again.
I want to give back now. When I volunteer, I don’t put on airs and graces – I want people to feel comfortable. It’s a place of peace and quiet, where you can sort your head out and get some advice if you need it.
What was your first impression of the Jesus Centre?
There was no agenda. It felt like a nice community. I felt safe and I felt welcome. I felt like I could be me. A lot of other places I’d gone to hadn’t felt like that. It’s important that you can be yourself – when you’re homeless and you’re that alone, who else are you going to find other than yourself? Now I can give some of that feeling to other people.
It’s a place of peace and quiet, where you can sort your head out and get some advice if you need it.
Why should people consider volunteering?
People can find themselves more. It’s very rewarding. It’s not about money. Volunteering saved me. I didn’t know who would employ me or what to do with myself. I’m starting to get paid for employment now, but I still enjoy volunteering. I’m learning to get my voice back.
A lot of people have been damaged by religion, but at the Jesus Centre nothing is pushed on to anyone in terms of faith. There is space for everyone to work things out for themselves. It’s all about self-empowerment.
Also, volunteering is fun!
Why should people consider supporting the Jesus Centre?
If you were in a really difficult place, like I was, wouldn’t you like to know that there’s somewhere you can go? It’s beautiful to know somebody’s there when you really need them. This place is unique – it’s really helped me. It’s not about making people dependent – it’s about empowering people, helping them grow into themselves.