StreetLink community spotlight - Liam

Liam is a former rough sleeper and StreetLink volunteer, and now works permanently at St Mungo's.  Here he reveals how volunteering changed his life and tells us about a ‘typical’ shift with the team.

"My name is Liam. I’m 27 and have been sleeping rough on and off since I was 16. I left home at 15 and live with my two best friends – depression and anxiety. Since 2016 I have been supported by St Mungo’s services and hostels. I am one of those who strives to do better and has a passion for helping others – if I can make one person smile or their day better, then I am happy.”

Do you think that volunteering with StreetLink has benefited you?

"Volunteering has changed my life completely. Thanks to the support and the dedication of the StreetLink team and volunteers I have built up enough confidence and skills to now land myself a permanent job with St Mungos with the Information Security team in less than 6 months. As a client I have shown that volunteering can and does change your life and that regardless of your past, you can make it."

Why were you interested in volunteering with StreetLink?

"I was interested in volunteering because I wanted to give back, I wanted to help others and feel like I was making a difference to people’s lives."

What was your favourite part of the role?

"My favourite part of the role has been connecting with other people - people who are rough sleeping to members of the public alerting us of people rough sleeping, volunteers and StreetLink staff. It has been amazing to be part of something so special that is helping people rebuild their lives. A particularly memorable moment was during the freezing weather (February 2018). I volunteered for three days in a row and it was so heart-warming to see that at our busiest ever time, people from different teams came together to help out alongside volunteers, many of whom didn’t even have a break. The dedication and passion was truly overwhelming." 

What might you do in a ‘typical’ volunteer shift?

“In a typical shift, I work my way through alerts and ensure that the correct information is sent to the outreach teams so they have the best chance of finding someone who is sleeping rough. I am also now building my skills such as handling emails that come through, and my phone skills so I can engage the public in homelessness and communicate the complexities of rough sleeping over the phone.”

What advice would you give to those thinking about becoming a volunteer?

"I really enjoyed being part of something special, knowing that I – who have been homeless on and off for many years –  was part of a passionate group of people helping to stop rough sleeping. The advice I would give to anyone thinking of volunteering is ‘go for it, do it – the experience alone is worth it.’ Do ask questions if you’re unsure about something – it really is okay. It’s one of the greatest feel-good factors, volunteering for something that you are passionate about.”