Volunteering for the first time at Hunter Homeless Connect Day? Here are a few tips to get you started.
BEING A VOLUNTEER
We don’t need you to specialise in anything to be a volunteer with Hunter Homeless Connect Inc., you just need to be a compassionate and caring person. All you need is the capacity to have a conversation with someone, an open mind, a willingness to accept people as they are and enthusiasm to roll up your sleeves.
WHAT TO WEAR
Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. supplies t-shirts for you on the day, and can be collected from the Information Desk when you first arrive. Remember it can be cold, so wear something warm underneath and comfortable shoes are a must. Please remember to hand your t-shirt back before you leave. We recycle them to use every year.
Each year we expect approximately 1000 guests at the event, plus over 300 service providers and volunteers.We don’t promote the event to the general public, guests are referred by specialist homeless services and other organisations and when the gates open to the public at 9.00am, there are lots of people congregating in the area and it’s all systems go! Be prepared for a busy day!
If you have registered as a volunteer, please read the emails you would have received, to familiarise yourself with where you need to be. If you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed, head over to the Information Desk where you will find support from experienced volunteers. Make sure you plan ahead and you’re on time.
You will no doubt have the opportunity to talk to our guests on the day. We don’t have any set list of what to say and what not to say. Just be yourself. Be kind. Be understanding. Be helpful. Listening is the best way to know what people may need.
LOOK AFTER YOU
Hunter Homeless Connect is a significant day for everyone involved, even seasoned volunteers. You may see or hear things you aren’t accustomed to, and you may find it overwhelming. This is normal and it is ok. If you find yourself struggling on the day, find your Volunteer Coordinator or fellow volunteer and have a chat. Take a break. Just let someone know before you go.
We know it can be difficult to contemplate going home to a warm bed when others aren’t so fortunate. Focus on the positive outcomes that happen on the day and how small steps are helping.
You don’t need to be concerned about safety. Security is on-site and provided by the venue and we also have a Safety Officer moving about on the day. First Aid are located near the Information Desk and Police have been notified of the event.
We are more than happy for volunteers to take photos of themselves with their team and share the love. But please, refrain from taking photos of our guests. We will have a professional photographer on-site on the day, asking permission to take photos of guests as and when appropriate.
LIKE MINDED PEOPLE
Everyone participates in Hunter Homeless Connect Day for their own reasons. You’ll find yourself working alongside people from all walks of life. Some have been before, some haven’t. Some of our volunteers have first attended as guests of Hunter Homeless Connect Day and now give back by volunteering. What we all share is a desire to help others and to make this event happen. So, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, you're all part of a compassionate community and connections made here could become friends for life.
It’s not uncommon to walk away from Hunter Homeless Connect Day feeling like we aren’t doing enough as a community... as a country. There are many other ways you can make a difference outside of this annual event. You can sign the Newcastle & Hunter Ending Homelessness Pledge and become an advocate for people experiencing homelessness. If you own a business, you could join the Connecting the Hunter Program. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for more information.