MCWS could not run without the hard work of our amazing volunteers. Although many of our volunteers come from local churches, you do not need to go to church to become a volunteer.
Our shelters run in various church venues around Maidstone. For each night of the week there are several shifts as follows:
Set up team: 6.30-7.15pm
Setting up the beds and bedding
Setting up the tables and chairs for dinner / games
kitchen team: 6-9pm
Preparing, cook & serve the evening meal
Washing up and leaving the kitchen clean and tidy
welcome team: 7-10pm
Greeting and chatting to guests
Serving meals to the guests (some venues) and joining them for dinner
Playing games, watching DVD’s, listening and chatting to guests
overnight team: 9.30pm -7.15am
With a team of 4 overnight volunteers (at least one must be male), 2 stay awake for half the night whilst the other 2 sleep, then the teams swap for the second half of the night.
The ‘awake’ volunteers ensure that our guests remain safe and comfortable, sometimes just listening or making a cup of tea if that is needed.
morning team: 7am -9am
Preparing and serving breakfast
Packing away the beds and packing the bedding ready for laundering
Tidying away the tables & chairs
Cleaning, including the toilet areas
Generally leaving the building clean and tidy
All of these jobs are essential to the smooth running of the shelter and couldn’t be achieved without the support, communication skills and teamwork of our volunteers.
Volunteering has always been a core value at Maidstone Churches Winter Shelter. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for the dedication, care and kind-heartedness of our volunteers each winter.
If you would like to know more, please feel free to read our FAQ's below, or read our Volunteer Handbook.
The shelter was a joy to be a part of, given that everyone would rather it wasn’t needed. It was well run, safe and had an increasingly positive vibe throughout.
Frequently Asked questions
Do I have to volunteer for every night?
No. On our volunteer application form we ask volunteers to specify which evenings/morning and weeks they are available, plus the tasks they’d like to undertake. Our rotas are prepared using this information.
Will I be allocated all the shifts I volunteer for?
Not necessarily. We try to ensure that all of our volunteers are allocated shifts. If we have too many volunteers for a shift, we will limit the number of volunteers for that evening. This is to ensure that our guests aren’t overwhelmed and outnumbered by the volunteers. There are plenty of shifts though & we do try to ensure that all volunteers are able to help.
What if I volunteer but don’t like it?
If you volunteer but then decide it’s not for you, please just let the office and your Venue Lead know you’d rather not volunteer again. We will remove your name from future rotas and find another volunteer to cover the future shifts.
If I volunteer for the overnight shifts, do I have to bring anything?
No. We provide camp beds, sleeping bags and pillows for our overnight volunteers. However, some of our overnighters prefer to bring their own sleeping bags and pillows and that is ok too. Bringing a book or iPad/Tablet for your ‘awake’ part of the night helps to pass the time too.
If I am on the Welcome shift, will I get dinner?
We ask our welcome team to share dinner with our guests in the same way as a family meal, so dinner is provided for evening volunteers in addition to guests, although we like our guests to be served first.
How will I know what to do if I haven’t volunteered before?
We run a couple of training sessions each winter, prior to the start of the shelter. However, your Venue Lead or other experienced volunteers will always be on hand to guide you on your first shift(s). The teams of volunteers work really well together and are always there to support one another.
My children would like to help. Are they able to?
Children aged 14-17 inclusive are welcome to volunteer, but must always have permission from a responsible adult and that adult must attend the shift with them.
Can I volunteer to do overnight shifts but as an ad-hoc ‘emergency’ cover rather than a regular commitment?
We welcome overnight volunteers on an ad-hoc basis. The overnight shifts are the hardest to cover and having a list of volunteers willing to cover this shift at short notice is always good.
Do I need any checks if I want to volunteer?
On our volunteer application form we ask for details of 2 x referees, whom we contact to check the suitability of our volunteers. These checks are undertaken every 3 years. Also, for Venue Leads (volunteers in charge of Venues) and overnight volunteers we do undertake DBS checks. This is organised through the MCWS office.
If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.