Gayle’s Story

by Anthony Taylor on 12 July 2016

Gayle has volunteered for us for two years.  She has previously suffered from addictions and is on her recovery journey.

She was staying in a shared house and feeling bored so decide to look for opportunities to volunteer at organisations connected to homelessness and recovery. She arrived at SIFA Fireside and said her first impression was pure excitement thinking ‘right let’s see what I can do here’.

‘I think SIFA Fireside is absolutely brilliant particularly because of the communication between staff, volunteers and clients. Clients know me now and come to me with worries and questions.

I work on reception, the help desk, in the kitchen and generally helping out – I get all the good jobs! When the broom broke the Manager gave me the money to go to the shop and buy a new one; she said I was the only one she could trust. That made me feel great.

Helping here has helped me progress with the career I want; to be a support worker for people with addiction issues. I have been able to see the staff and understand how to work with this client group. I have also had access to training such as boundaries training, legal highs awareness and my food and hygiene certificate!

One day I came in and the facilities coordinator said they needed to speak with me. I was worried it was bad news! But they sat me down and said that the clients had requested I represent them at their Service User Forum. I was gobsmacked but so pleased to represent them and take any of their worries or suggestions to the CEO.

There is no divide here between staff and volunteers; we all muck in and have the same aims. The staff have supported me and given me advice. I don’t have any family down here so people at SIFA are my Brummie Family!

It’s so nice when I come back to the drop in from visiting home; everyone is so pleased to see me! I feel really valued.

When I go home at night and reflect on the day I can always thing of how I helped someone that day. Even if its just noticing someone looks a bit down and going to have a chat with them. If they don’t speak much English we still have a go and I’ll try and cheer them up.’

Not only does Gayle support us in the drop in 3 days per week but on a Monday and Friday she stays on for an extra hour to support Pam, Changing Lives support worker, to run the ‘Litter Picking Club’ Pam says

Gayle sees the drop in as a safe haven for everyone. It stops her thinking about her own recovery and she finds it uplifting.

We rely on regular volunteers like Gayle to help us to deliver our services, helping the homeless and vulnerably housed.  If you would like to know more about volunteering at SIFA Fireside please take a look at our volunteering pages.

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