Chris’ story

After a period of street homelessness, Chris is rebuilding his life in different ways, including using his new-found confidence to volunteer

Chris’ story

Chris has been volunteering with Deptford Reach since it re-opened after lockdown, with a new purpose of supporting more people in an outreach capacity. Chris started volunteering after being recommended to Thames Reach’s TRaVEL (Thames Reach Volunteering and Employment for Life) programme, which helps people improve their confidence and interpersonal skills before entering volunteering or the workplace. He has been volunteering for just over two months, and has a front-of-house role on reception, meeting and greeting visitors to the building and helping with tasks such as ensuring people get to their doctor’s appointment. He finds the experience rewarding and a good way of being able to use the skills he had worked on during the TRaVEL programme.

“I found out about TRaVEL through my support worker, and the project first introduced me to Thames Reach’s work. I’ve been able to improve my communication skills, my confidence and my self-esteem, which I’ll need for heading into work.Chris is currently happy volunteering and working on his self-esteem and rebuilding his life after a period of street homelessness, and keen to give back to the sector that has helped him. “I like being able to give back to the service. Because of my past, when people come into the building, I can see potential in them. Maybe if they see me they might be inspired to improve their situation. I feel like I am in a position to inspire them, even in a subtle way.” When Chris is ready to get back into work, he is keen to work in the fields of homelessness, mental health or recovery, using his lived experience to help others.  He will be able to access the Thames Reach Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) service for support with job applications.

The recovery journey Chris is going through began from being street homeless for a year, before residing in a hostel for another year after his time sleeping rough, then rehab for seven months. He is now determined to focus on his recovery and improving his wellbeing, he says, to never go back to the way he was. He wants to use his lived experience to eventually find a job where he can help and influence people and be paid for it. Reflecting on how far he has come, Chris says “helping other people is part of my recovery”.

Chris is now enjoying taking up new hobbies which help him feel happy in himself. He is undergoing training in beekeeping locally in London, and enjoys being outdoors as much as possible. He also speaks enthusiastically about a project he is part of with St Mungo’s called Paws for Pause, which provides training for working with dogs and understanding their behaviours, aimed at people who have had mental health support needs. “It’s good for my wellbeing, I really enjoy it, plus it’s the opportunity to pick up some new skills. My life has changed big time and I’m very grateful for that.”

For volunteering opportunities, please email volunteers@thamesreach.org.uk. 

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