The Connection at St Martin’s is a registered homelessness charity – the busiest in London – that helps thousands of homeless people to recover and find housing and work. But, they are much more than a soup kitchen. They provide a range of specialist services, all under one roof, which help people address their homelessness and make the necessary steps away from the streets so they can re-enter society and live ‘normally’ again.
NKD volunteered at The Connection’s canteen every Friday morning for 6 months, where all the food is affordable but paid for by individuals. The idea is that those needing the services at The Connection are given “a hand up, not a hand out” (Stephen Robertson, CEO of the Big Issue Foundation).
Before my first volunteer session I was a little apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect. However, once I walked through the doors at The Connection, we were made to feel instantly at ease; all the staff were so friendly, we were shown the ropes and all feelings of apprehension melted away.
We connected with everyone and spoke to so many people who we perhaps would have overlooked on a day-to-day basis. We may have just been serving food, but I felt we were served a reminder to be grateful, to use more compassion, and to remember that at the end of the day, we are all the same – we have just been dealt different circumstances. I also felt this was the prompt I needed to do more for the community and give a little more of my personal time.
They say time is money, but giving up part of the valuable working week, time designated to ‘making money’, to volunteer, demonstrates that we are a business with heart, not just one with a sense of obligation towards social responsibility.
Ultimately, our business, which proudly proclaims that we are people with soul, has given us as individuals the opportunity to develop our sense of soul so that we embody the mission statement and make it meaningful.
Time is our most finite and valuable resource and I feel so grateful to work somewhere that is conscious of this and encourages us to make a difference.