by Pam Jenkinson – Night Light Café Project Worker
We have been really fortunate this year to have eighteen volunteers at our Night Light Cafes who are currently psychology students and attend either Bishop Grosseteste University or Lincoln University as part of their work experience placements. We have been overwhelmed with the quality and commitment they have shown to our project and many have continued to volunteer, even though they no longer need to put the placement hours in!
Two of our outstanding student volunteers are Lauren and Ellie-Mae and I spoke with them about how they had heard about us.
Lauren: I heard about Night Light Cafe through my University placement advisor. I was required to complete a set amount of hours within an environment where I could apply the counselling/helping skills I had learnt on my course so far (I study Psychology and Counselling). She provided me with a number of different places to look into and the Night Light Cafe stood out for me. I thought it was very unique and had a really supportive and welcoming motive.
Ellie-Mae: I originally heard about volunteering opportunities with Night Light Cafe through my placement officer at University for a module, and am glad to have carried on.
I then asked the girls what their experience had been like with us – what had they enjoyed? Had there been any challenges?
Lauren:- My experience with the Night Light Cafe has been a very positive one. I felt so welcomed by all the other volunteers and project workers when I first joined the team, and have felt nothing but support during my whole time there. It is such a wonderful environment where everyone is made to feel a part of something – a big welcoming community. Seeing people feel happy and involved in something they can attend every week is really amazing to see, and I feel really proud to say I have played a part in making these people feel this way. It has been enjoyable to attend the evenings and see the familiar faces and to see new ones! Volunteering at the Night Light Cafe has been a remarkable factor in encouraging me to grow as a person, as it has helped me to come out of my shell a lot more. It has made me want to support and encourage other people to grow and make the very best journey for themselves too.
Ellie-Mae:- I have really enjoyed forming positive relationships with fellow volunteers at my centre and with regular visitors who come on with updates on their life and it’s amazing to hear positive changes that they are having. The cafes have provided me with a sense of satisfaction knowing that I have been able to support individuals who needed a safe space to turn to even if they have only visited once.
A challenge I have experienced is being extremely nervous when I started, you don’t know what to expect when you walk in somewhere for the first time and therefore question if you will be able to make a change. This caused a lot of anxiety for myself but after meeting the other volunteers, I soon came to understand that they all felt like that previously when they started and that visitors are happy just knowing that we have all decided to take them out of our lives to chat to them.
Finally I asked the girls, what would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering with us?
Lauren:- I would tell someone who was thinking about volunteering with the Night Light Cafe to go for it! Not only does it give you the opportunity to encourage and support other people who need it, it helps to open your mind and be in touch with yourself more too! It is the most friendliest environment you could ever volunteer in.
Ellie-Mae: – For anyone thinking of volunteering with the Night Light Cafe, I would tell them to sign up and do it. If you can’t commit to it continuously you can express it to the person in charge of your cafe and can volunteer how often suits you. It is a really rewarding experience knowing that you are able to make even a small difference to someone’s day to day life, providing them with a new face to talk to. You are provided with training and all of the volunteers are supportive of each other so you will always feel your time is valued and know that you can ask questions if you are unsure regarding anything.
We are so grateful to all our student volunteers and value them so much on our teams at Night Light.
Night Light Café is open to all, everyone is welcome. To access this service, or to refer someone for support from Night Light, please call 0300 011 1200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check out our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nightlightcafelincoln