Friday 14 July 2017

Spires Volunteer Story - Walk For Solidarity 2017

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As part of our on-going Walk for Solidarity 2017 fundraising campaign we have nominated two charities who will be beneficiaries of any funds raised.

One of which is Spires Day Centre in Streatham, south east London and over the coming weeks we will be sharing the stories and testimonies of their volunteers and service users to give more of an insight into the fantastic work they do in the local community.

“Steve” – Volunteer and former service user at Spires Day Centre

"We first met Steve in mid-summer last year, looking all of his sixty-three years. 

Tired and grey, his legs stiff and heavily swollen, he had little to say for himself and was clearly carrying a great sadness. 

Such presentations are not uncommon in our rough sleepers’ space so it was business as usual for support worker Shirley when she began to probe gently into his story to find out how we could help. 

No one could have guessed how this extraordinary tale would unfold. 

Steve worked as a security guard after a career in the army.  For decades, he had lived with his wife and children in the family home only a short distance from the Centre.  

Five years ago, his beloved wife died and part of him went with her.

Steve had continued to work, going through the motions, but had stopped caring about anything. 

By the time he arrived at Spires, his grown-up children had dispersed, the house had been repossessed and he had given up his job.  It was as if he had given up on life.

Undeterred, Shirley, one of the workers here at Spires, referred Steve to the local outreach team to try and get him under cover quickly, helped him reengage with his doctor and with making an ESA claim.

Steve soon perked up and despite his straightened circumstances, began looking out for another service user he had befriended, sitting in a chair at night outside Spires, watching over her so she could sleep safely.  Such selfless kindness was quickly rewarded. 

Steve told Shirley he had a sister living in West London, but said he had been too ashamed to let her know of his plight.  Shirley contacted her and she immediately offered him shelter.  It was through her that we then learned he might have a modest pension.  And so he did. 

Using money from this forgotten fund, James, another of our support workers, who has a City background, helped Steve to redeem the mortgage and recover his house; sell the property at market value; settle his outstanding tax and utility bills; and is currently supporting the purchase of a modest apartment close to his sister’s home. 

The balance is to be reinvested in his pension so that he can live out his days in relative comfort.

In return, Steve travels for over an hour, using two trains and a bus, to get to the Centre where he now volunteers one day a week.  He recently completed our Introduction to Volunteering Course. 

Steve says if it wasn’t for the sympathetic staff at Spires, who do everything they can to help no matter what your situation, he’s sure he wouldn’t be here today.  He says that volunteering at Spires gives him peace of mind, an opportunity to give back and a sense of pride".

**at the request of Spires, the name of the volunteer has been changed**

To donate to our Walk for Solidarity 2017 campaign, please visit http://bit.ly/walksolidarity17 Thank you