The Right Revd Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, has praised the work of volunteers in supporting important causes.
Addressing the Nightstop Conference at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine London, on Thursday November 19, Bishop Mark called on people to do more for those in need in society, particularly at a time when the welfare system is coming under such pressure.
The Bishop, who has worked closely with the homeless people’s organisation for several years, said: “Volunteering is essential because it broadens our vision of the human family.
“My worry is that, as a society, many of us live and work and play in very tight bubbles. Many of us, I suspect, spend a lot of our time with people like us: people who think like us, people who hold similar views, perhaps read the same newspapers, watch the same TV programmes, possibly vote the same way in a General Election.
“The danger is that, as we live in these little bubbles, we become less and less aware of the human beings around us.
“My passionate belief is that what volunteering can do is to open my eyes to people whose experience of life is very, very different from mine, other people whose lives are not any better or worse than mine but simply different.”
He said that the value of volunteering with organisations like Nightstop, which works with homeless people, was that it allowed better understanding of people.
Bishop Mark, who with his wife has been a Nightstop host for three years, said: “It means, of course, that I stop thinking about ‘homeless young people and think about Johnny, who had a less than good experience with his dad and has now been kicked out because he can’t get on with mum’s new boyfriend. Volunteering helps me to see people as human beings like me rather than just as statistics.”
He added: “If we’re going to be really committed to this whole idea of volunteering and of working with those whose lives get a bit complicated, I want to suggest that we need to keep in front of ourselves the big picture, the sense of why are we doing this’.”
Nightstop and similar emergency housing schemes for homeless young people aged 16 to 25 provide free, safe, supportive and welcoming environments in the home of a volunteer who offers a young person an evening meal and a bed for the night. Stays can be anything from just one night to a few weeks.
The annual Nightstop Conference brings together people from all around the country who are responsible for running Nightstop projects. The title for this year’s conference is Volunteering in Society.
Nightstop schemes are typically run by charities and coordinated by the national charity Depaul UK, which sets standards for the schemes and of which the Bishop is a Trustee. There are about 40 Nightstop schemes in the UK.
Statistics for Nightstop North East
2014 – Nightstop North East provided 800 bed nights for 84 young people
2015 to date Nightstop North East has provided 700 bed nights for 90 young people
They currently have 53 households
They need more hosts who can do weekends. Nightstop also needs more hosts in the Teesside, South Tyneside and Northumberland areas
The contact person for potential volunteers is Volunteer Co-ordinator Joe Kirwin 07957165488 0191 253 6161/6171 firstname.lastname@example.org