Ailsa’s life-changing experience as a KCAH volunteer

Ailsa lives in Thames Ditton and had worked in the hospitality industry for eighteen years since she left school. Having fallen out of love with working in pubs, she wanted to do something rewarding. She registered with Volunteering Kingston and then learnt, through the newsletter, about the Volunteers Fair in during Volunteers’ Week 2019. 

She found all the organisations she spoke to interesting, but she was most impressed by Sophie and Megan at Kingston Churches Action on Homelessness. She thought they were the most inspiring because they were so clued and passionate about supporting vulnerable people. She hadn’t really thought much about homelessness before, but now she was excited to start volunteering. 

Before the Night Shelter opened in September Ailsa volunteered supporting Sophie with the preparations. She emailed potential volunteers and sought donations for food and sleeping bags. Her biggest achievement was managing to source a meal from a different restaurant each night for the thirty guests who attend the shelter. She was excited to get involved and looking forward to meeting the guests and making a difference. 

As she says, coming to Volunteering Kingston’s Volunteers’ Week Fair changed her life. She quit her job the day the night shelter opened and was offered work with KCAH as the Office Coordinator. 

Volunteering as the Night Shelter Assistant was Ailsa’s first time, but now she’s a convert, encouraging friends and family to volunteer. She’s found that volunteering was the only thing that helped her move on from a low phase. She describes it as ‘food for the soul’. 

During the COVID-19 period working with KCAH, she’s had some of the most stressful days of her life, as well as the most rewarding. She now coordinates volunteers, and they’ve been driving, putting food parcels together and staff the hotel where 60 rough sleepers are now staying.  

When asked about the best thing about volunteering, she says that it’s “meeting a lot of people who are trying to make a positive change in the world. It’s upped my faith in people.” Asked to sum volunteering up in three words, she says: “incredible; life-changing. 

If you’d like to learn how volunteering can change your life, find out more here.

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