“I can just leave my worries at inHope and I go home feeling refreshed.”

Volunteers are crucial to inHope’s work, and volunteering takes many different forms, from frontline roles to fundraising. InHope’s DIY volunteer Dave shares his experience of helping out at inHope and explains how using his skills benefits everybody.

Dave – tell us a little bit about your volunteering at inHope and how you got involved.

I used to volunteer in the Wild Goose with people like Alan Goddard, back when inHope was still Crisis Centre Ministries. I used to come down with people from Clevedon Baptist Church. The Wild Goose didn’t have a chef, and I used to help out in the kitchen, doing the washing up. It was in the days when there was a shop under Spring of Hope so I used to come, bring food down here, bring furniture and things down to Spring of Hope and just help out.

I’ve always done DIY, working for myself years ago in London. I’m very hands on. When I moved to Clevedon I got a job working for a company doing refits in shops, but when I got a mortgage I needed to get a regular job, so I ended up doing maintenance in night clubs, doing everything from sorting toilet flushes to fixing chillers. So I’ve been doing it for years really – always with an attitude of trying to repair something rather than replacing it.

At the start of the pandemic I was put on furlough, a situation that has now gone on for more than a year. I’ve always struggled in life, mentally, partly with my own experiences, but also through being around a group of people who were involved with drugs and drinking. At the time I was spending the day walking around all day, not actually having a conversation with anyone or hearing my own voice. It was completely silent – which started things off in my own head, which would get even worse in the evening. It’s so powerful when you don’t have any conversation or contact with people, day after day.

I knew of inHope from my previous time here and through some other contacts I met Ruth Nott (inHope Finance and Operations Manager). When Ruth mentioned about inHope, I knew it would be a safe place because of God’s presence. I knew it would be a place where I could interact with people.

What practical things have you been doing?

At Carpenter House I’ve been doing some DIY jobs following on from the refurbishment. I’ve been putting catches on the doors. I’ve boxed in some of the pipework in the downstairs toilets. I’ve put all the display boards and whiteboards up in the offices. I’ve sorted a few of the combination locks.

At Spring of Hope I’ve spent four days sorting out the front of the shop, including sanding down the signs and the woodwork, before repairing it and then staining it all up so it’s water proof. Inside I’ve been going from room to room, filling the holes from where the CCTV was removed or the curtains have been changed. I’ve repaired the holes behind the door handles and put door stops in place so the handles don’t bang against the wall. I’ve fixed some of the window sills and carpets back in so that they’re not used. And I’ve done a bit of painting, just to brighten things all up.

How does it feel, knowing that you’ve been helping other people?

You can go through life often getting help with so many different problems from different people. I’ve always wanted to give things back to help other people in the same way that I’ve been helped. I’m good with my hands and with maintenance and I just feel that by doing this, it’s a way of giving back – not just to inHope, but also by making sure that the buildings are ready for other people, when they’re having a bad time and they need somewhere to go. I feel that what I’ve done has contributed to other people being able to come in.

Two years ago I was sofa surfing, and people were just putting me up for a month. I could have easily got myself in an awkward or vulnerable position. I could have been one of the people standing outside the Wild Goose with nowhere to go and no food. I would never think it couldn’t happen to me. You could be going along and everything would be rosy and fine, and then all of a sudden you can be going down a long path.

What have you learned about God or about your faith?

God’s always been part of my life, ever since I was a child. God has played a big part in my life. It just amazes me when I come to inHope, to think how God works, and what life would be like for people if this place wasn’t here. It’s by coming here, I can see the things that God does, and I find that my faith is growing more and more. It’s always been there, and there are times when it does slip, but by coming here my faith gets fully charged. It just makes me aware how gracious and how wonderful God is.

Also I think there are times where you pray and ask the Lord for things, and he sorts something out. By coming here, I’ve realised that God listens, but that he works with his own timing. It’s okay to leave things with him, and when the time is right he will make you aware that he has done something about the thing you talked to him about.

On my way home each day I walk through Millennium Square and I’ll meet a couple of guys that I know, who sit there and drink. They’ll ask me about how I’ve got on at inHope and what I’ve done, and I can talk to them about how I feel when I leave because of God’s presence.

I get the UCB Magazine and one month I got two, so I gave it to one of the guys. And although I know he’s got four cans of beer in his carrier bag, he’s also got this magazine which he reads and asks me about. Sometimes he’ll say ‘I did the reading yesterday and it’s amazing’ – and I can tell him how God is amazing.

I can tell him how if he needs something to eat he can get food at the Wild Goose and that he won’t be turned away. Sometimes if I’m volunteering later in the day, and there’s food left over at the Wild Goose, I take a couple of boxes of food away and give one to him. And then when I’m eating my meal, I know that he’s got one too.

What does volunteering at inHope mean to you?

By coming to inHope I’ve met people. I don’t feel nervous about coming here, or volunteering at Spring of Hope, because I know God’s presence is here. The atmosphere here is so relaxed and chilled. Everybody respects and gets on with each other, and everyone helps each other out.

Sometimes, when I’ve had a really bad night, I think ‘maybe I won’t go in today because if I go in, somebody’s going to notice that I’m quiet.’ And then, I think ‘if I don’t go, what am I going to do? I’m just going to walk around all day, or sit in the flat.’ And then, come the evening time I know I’m going to struggle.

I always find that if I do come into inHope the morning and I’ve had a bad night, by the time I leave at the end of the day, I’ve left behind whatever was troubling me. It gives me a chance to sort myself physically because I’ve had a meal. I’m mentally sorted out too because I’ve had the chance to talk to somebody. And it feels like I can just leave my worries at inHope and I go home feeling refreshed. I always feel the Lord’s presence here, and I always leave feeling my faith has been recharged.

I do appreciate and I do value everyone here. I think a lot of people wouldn’t know how much I get from being here. And I don’t know where this might lead. I’ve already had a couple of chats with churches who have needed some DIY done, and whilst at the moment I’m not able to help them in a paid capacity, I can still volunteer with them. It’s a way of me giving back.

Image: Olivia Jackson

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