An interview with two Night Light Volunteers

by Stacey Marriott – Night Light Café Coordinator

We recently interviewed Rae and Alan, who volunteer at the Birchwood Night Light Cafe. Here is what they had to say!

Tell us a little bit about yourselves and how you first heard about the Night Light cafe:

Rae: I am the secretary of Churches Together in Hykeham and Swallowbeck and enjoy keeping in touch with the church’s members. We have a monthly prayer time as Churches Together and when the Night Light cafes were first introduced to Churches in Lincoln, we made them a topic for prayer.

Alan: I presently work voluntarily with the Salvation Army with their Homeless project, having worked with the homeless and rootless in London, Preston and Lincoln.

Along with the above I support my wife with the care of lady with learning difficulties who lives in her independent accommodation and am involved in a city-wide prayer movement.

I learnt about Night Light cafes from the coordinator at a prayer meeting for Churches Together.

What made you want to volunteer?

Rae: I wanted to train as a volunteer for Night Light Cafes because I enjoy helping people and wanted to continue to use the signposting skills that I had learned before retirement as a public library staff member. 

Alan: In my experience, drawn from many years working with the homeless and rootless, I dealt with people in many degrees of mental illness, and when I heard about Night Light Cafes, I thought that this was something where I could use the gifts and abilities that I have gained.

What is your favourite part of volunteering?

Rae: My favourite part of volunteering is getting to know the other volunteers and guests and spending time together. 

Alan: My favourite part of volunteering is when I see our guests in conversation helping each other. 

And what do you find most challenging?

Rae: The most challenging part of the role is that it is difficult to resist the instinct to want to fix everything instantly, when usually the best help for someone struggling with their mental health is to have a volunteer beside them over a period of time and allow them to talk through their situation. It does help to talk, and at a Night Light Café there is plenty of time available. This is the difference between appointments with healthcare professionals and volunteer-led facilities, such as Night Light Cafes, and each service complements the other.

Alan: I think the most challenging aspect is not quite knowing who is going to turn up and to what degree their mental illness may be. 

What is one thing you would say to anyone reading this who is struggling with their mental health?

Alan: To anyone struggling with their mental health I think I would say, there are many like you with mental health problems and if you talk about your problems, you may find you help someone else, or someone may be of help to you. Talking about how you feel is not a weakness in fact it takes courage to share but in doing so you will find a way through.

Thanks to Rae and Alan and all our amazing volunteers who support Night Light – we are so fortunate to have you.

If you are interested in volunteering with us at Night Light you can request further information by emailing us at nightlight@actstrust.org.uk.

Alternatively, if you would like support at one of our cafes. We are open every night of the week at different locations around Lincoln. You can email us at nightlight@actstrust.org.uk, call 0300 011 1200 or Message us on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/nightlightcafelincoln

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