Category Archives: Volunteering

Ways to practically help the homeless

Our hearts are stirred when we walk by people sitting or sleeping on our streets but it’s hard to know how to help. I feel the temptation to walk by but it’s so much better when I get down on their level, introduce myself and ask about their situation. Often I find that the person is already working with an organisation that is helping them and is just grateful that somebody has stopped to talk to them. It’s also good to ask if they want something particular to eat or drink.

talk to homeless

If someone is not getting any support, I try to point them in the direction of a local day centre that can help them claim benefits, find accommodation and get other practical help for their particular situation. I work for HOPE worldwide Two Step – in 2017 we began several partnerships with day centres so that they could refer people to us for help finding accommodation. This partnership approach is really effective and we housed 16 people referred this way in the last three months of 2017. If you would like to take part in a sponsored walk on Sat 24th 2018 March where you can learn more about how Two Step is helping the homeless and how you can help personally please go to

How to talk to someone who is street homeless:

Many people on the streets are using day centres and getting some kind of support. If someone is not being helped by any particular organisation and is sleeping rough, you can contact streetlink and also to recommend any local homeless day centres that you know of or can find out about that could help them directly or refer them elsewhere. If you live in London this is a great site and app that you can use to help do this,

You can search for local homeless services in England here:

Things to remember:
· Make sure that you are not putting yourself in an unsafe situation e.g. by talking to someone who is drunk or in a group of people
· Get on their level and introduce yourself and ask if they are homeless and if anyone is helping them
· Find out about their situation to see what they need help with and perhaps buy them some food or drink and recommend they contact a local day centre.

Is it a good idea to give money?

If people are asking for money, I usually explain that I give money to a homeless charity rather than giving money on the street and offer to buy them something to eat or drink if I have time. I have donated to HOPE worldwide and supported Two Step for many years because the programme is very effective at housing the homeless. (If you would like to support Two Step please go to and select Two Step from the Dropdown menu.)

Case Study: Two Step programme

HOPE worldwide’s programme ‘Two Step’ began after two Christians took the step of faith of sleeping on the streets of London for a week in order to meet homeless people, experience homelessness for themselves and understand how to help.

One of the people Two Step housed recently is Bill. Bill was homeless after splitting up with his partner and losing his business. The nights sleeping in the cold were taking their toll and he was desperate for somewhere to live before it got too much. Two Step were able to house him within a few days of his assessment so that he could start rebuilding his life. He is currently on a course to get his construction skills card so that he can begin working again.

How Two step works in partnership with other organisations to house the homeless (see below)

Two Step now works in partnership with many night shelters, charities and local authority projects to help house the homeless –those on the streets and those insecurely housed. This partnership approach is really effective and Two Step now houses around 25 people per month.

Would you like to participate in an event to raise funds and learn more about how you can help?

Two Step are organising a sponsored walk on Saturday 24th March. This is an opportunity to play an active part in addressing homelessness by learning about how to help people personally and by raising money to support the work of Two Step.
For more details or to sponsor a participant, please go to

You will hear from people who have been homeless and possibly walk alongside them past sights like Trafalgar Square, London eye and the houses of parliament – see photos below from a previous walk and video at

Two million steps slide 10th may

At the reception at the end of the walk, you will learn about how you can talk to and advise someone who is homeless and also of how you could help further e.g. by volunteering in a night shelter. Hope worldwide staff will also outline the plans Two Step has for the future.

Background: What is causing the increase in homelessness?

The rise in homelessness is largely driven by poverty in it’s various forms.
Material poverty means people can’t afford to pay rent or a mortgage. Rents have risen much faster than wages and Housing benefit has been reduced then frozen so it is no surprise that evictions have risen sharply. The end of a private tenancy is now the largest single cause of homelessness.

Poverty of relationships is another huge factor – our society emphasises choice and freedom rather than duty and commitment. Relationship breakdown is the second largest single cause of homelessness.

Many homeless people also have an acute poverty of identity. The longer that someone sleeps rough or lives in poor conditions, the lower their self-esteem and the greater the chance of developing mental health problems.
Behind the statistics and trends, each story is unique. Here are four stories as recorded by the BBC:

Being homeless carries significant personal risk. A homeless rough sleeper is 35 times more likely to attempt suicide, 13 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime and 47 times more likely to be a victim of theft. On average, street homeless people die at 47. You can read more about the facts of homelessness here:

Once someone loses their home, they may stay with friends and family for a while but it is often only a matter of time before they will have nowhere left to go. A lot of the people Two Step work with are in this situation and are very grateful that they can be housed before they have to live on the streets and face the risks outlined above. Thanks to all those who support our work!


Sign up for our sponsored walk Sat 24 March

We would love to have you join us for ‘Two million Step for Two Step’ on Sat 24th March 2018. The event is a great way to meet people, raise money and learn about our work with the homeless – all whilst passing many iconic London sights like Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament. Registration closes Sunday 11th March. To register and for more information please go to



The main walk will start from our Two Step office, 360 City Road, London EC1V 2PY to a reception at St Marks Kennington, (Oval Tube station), finishing around 1pm.

We are also inviting people that we have housed to participate.

To register, sponsor someone or for information please go to


One of the highlights of 2017 was beginning new partnerships with night shelters to house rough sleepers. We would love to raise funds to help expand this work and help fund our existing work thorough this event

Thank you to those who donated to the Grenfell Tower Disaster Fund

Here is an update on the money that was raised for the Grenfell Tower Disaster. We wanted to ensure that the money reached the most needy residents, as soon as possible. We identified a local charity who were working with the residents called Rugby Portobello Trust and at their suggestion used your donations to buy 45 vouchers worth £100 each for the Westfield Shopping Centre. The trust will identify the most needy families from the disaster and pass on our vouchers. Below is a photograph of Bruce Miller, Director of ODAAT, with one of the residents who lost his wife in the fire, along with Eri Gebrai from the Trust. Thank you to everyone who contributed.


Say No in November

No In November logo on blue

Addiction to drugs or alcohol is not something that all of us can relate to, but there are foods that we are more addicted to than we realise.  By sacrificing a cappuccino, latte, chocolate bar or carrot cake you experience momentarily the self control that is needed to say no and in a small way empathise with those resisting drug and alcohol addiction. Follow the instructions below and encourage your friends to do likewise.

NOIN11 phone image cropped (1)

Would you like to volunteer at a London night shelter?

Read about Bruce Miller’s experience of volunteering at a night shelter

Many of the night shelters around London are organised on the basis of local churches grouped into multiples of seven, each agreeing to have homeless people stay for one night per week. This involves providing an evening meal and then distributing bedding for them to sleep in the church hall, providing breakfast the following morning and then storing the labeled bedding for the same time next week. This would go on for a period of about six months starting in October and finishing in March.


St John the Baptist Church, Isleworth where Bruce volunteered.

So there are opportunities to help with cooking the evening meal, preparation of the men’s beds for sleeping, supervising the night shift and helping with breakfast and clear up in the morning.  My wife helped to cook the evening meal and this involved taking the food down to the shelter for about 7pm and collecting the empty, washed, container at about 10pm.  Other volunteers were actually in the building serving the meal and washing and cleaning up afterwards. So there are lots of ways to serve.

I got the chance to volunteer on a Thursday morning for eight weeks, during February and March 2017, at a night shelter in St. John’s Church of England, Isleworth. The work involved being there from 6:00-7:45am supporting between twelve to fourteen homeless men along with another five or six volunteers.

Specifically this meant helping to set up the large breakfast table, then as each man woke up, putting each person’s mattress and bedding into the storage room; helping to prepare breakfast and sitting with the men and talking together over breakfast; clearing up after breakfast, then sweeping , cleaning and preparing the hall for the daycare and nursery session that was immediately to follow. It was physical work but very encouraging to engage with the homeless men and meet with other volunteers in the community.  It was also sad, as I listened to their stories of how they came to be homeless.

I remember one morning feeling sorry for myself, having to get out of bed so early, then I remembered the guys that I was about to serve.  They were in a hall, sleeping on a 2” thick sponge mattress, with no family around them, all their possessions in a rucksack, and living on the streets.  I got out of bed with a better attitude; shame on me for complaining.  Truly, it is better to give than to receive.

The time I spent quickly flew by and on the last Thursday morning I expressed to one of the other volunteers that I was sad it was finished.  It felt so good to serve, and I hope that the relationships I have formed and this small act of service will be pleasing to God.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at night shelters over the winter please contact Jane Whitworth at




A Volunteer’s account of serving for two weeks at the Village of HOPE in New Delhi, India

On the evening of Boxing Day 2016 my friend Alison Clark-Morris and I flew out to Delhi to spend two weeks at the Village of Hope; a village which has been built for Leprosy sufferers and their families. Ali is a podiatrist (or, as she became known in India, “the foot doctor”) who works at a chiropractic clinic in Pangbourne and Theale Wellbeing Centre, Berkshire. The Village is run by the charity Hope Worldwide.

Volunteer podiatrist in Village of Hope

What has been achieved over 25 years was inspirational. People with leprosy not only suffer from the illness but because of the associated stigma, the whole family lose their jobs, cannot marry and are cast out of the community, usually ending up as beggars. The Village provides not just a home but also microcredit loans to set up small businesses and training in computing, nursing and sewing. The children and grandchildren of the original 800 residents are now getting jobs and building lives outside the Village.  We saw a busy, happy, vibrant place, with weddings, religious festivals and parties seemingly every day. (We were included in them all!).

Leprosy is now almost eliminated from India, only 127,326 new cases being diagnosed each year. Early detection is essential to avert disability. But for the previous generation, the infection left life-long neuropathy (nerve damage) in feet and hands leading to pain, disfigurement and loss of sensation. Loss of sensation leads to serious foot ulcers, similar to those sometimes seen on people with diabetes in the UK. It is these ulcers that, if not managed carefully, result in amputations and disability.

Volunteer nurse in Village of Hope

The bandaging clinic that treats the ulcers was where we worked alongside Raju. Raju contracted leprosy at 13 and ran away from home to protect his family and seek treatment. He was one of the lucky ones with no permanent damage. The Village trained him in wound care and while he cannot read or write he is a highly skilled medical technician, treating up to 100 patients a day. Ali’s very specialist skills made a real impact in just a fortnight, treating the ulcers and providing orthotic padding to relieve the pressure that causes the ulcers. She helped Raju further improve his skills and left a simple programme of education in self help for the residents to prevent new ulcers.

Our final job was to work with the charity to draw up an investment plan for the clinic to provide more up to date equipment (lights, steriliser, water supply etc.); a female assistant to work alongside Raju to deal with the many female leprosy sufferers who feel too ashamed to be treated by a man and finally the means for more professional podiatrists from the UK or elsewhere to visit as volunteers. Thankfully the first two of these three goals have already been achieved and there are plans for other podiatrists to go out next January. The picture below is of Raju and his new assistant.

Assistant technician in Village of Hope

Thank you to all those who have supported this worthwhile programme. If you would like to contribute to the continuing work of the Village of Hope please donate today.

Hope Jam – Talent Showcase

10th June 2017

Venue: The Star of Kings, 126 York Way, Kings Cross, N1 0AX

Time: 6pm

Tickets: £10

Ticket Website: