Each partner church sets up a Friendship and Support Group which is usually made up of between five and seven members of the church community and overseen by a coordinator. The coordinator is managed by someone in church leadership. Each tenant is assigned a befriender / mentor and there may be others in the team who are more focused on serving through administration, prayer or house maintenance
The type of tasks which befrienders do include:
Organising team meetings
Liaising between the wider church, Hope into Action and tenants
House set up including furnishing and tenant packs
Small maintenance and gardening jobs
Being ‘friends with purpose’ – mentoring an befriending tenants
Responding to needs
Be part of the prayer team
Respond to prayer requests
Maintain church interest
Every church we work with offers 4-7 people prepared to volunteer to support the house. We offer that group accredited training in mentoring and coaching and support them through out the process of coaching our tenants. In our experience the volunteers get as much out of volunteering as the tenants do and our volunteers grow and learn much on their own journey as they walk something of the tenant's journey with them.
I get a lot of support from the staff at HiABC and volunteer as part of a team. This is really empowering. We are all in the same boat.
Jon Bruton is a mentor from the Friendship and Support Team of Tabernacle Baptist Church. This is his experience of mentoring and volunteering.
“I first started out volunteering with HiABC because I wanted to get to know the stories behind the faces of people who I would not naturally associate with, as someone whose life had followed a typical middle class church going trajectory. I joined the friendship and support team which started with being trained up as a volunteer. They provided high quality professional training which helped me to feel more confident and to see how skills I already had could be used in this context.
It has been great getting to know the people, the house and the community that has been built around the house. The house is local to the church and to where I live and so I am familiar with the area. I have been able to take the lads to places I know, where I am known and have introduced them as friends.
So far I have mentored a couple of guys and it has been good. There has always been a real sense of building relationship and trust but sadly they have struggled with issues that have meant that they have not lasted the course. I still have relationship with them and we still chat when I see them. Self-esteem played a big part in their struggles. They had such a negative view of themselves and I really wanted to help them to see that they have something to offer.
I get a lot of support from the staff at HiABC and volunteer as part of a team. This is really empowering. We are all in the same boat. We know each other quite well and have built relationship with Kate, the Empowerment Officer for the house. There is also a wider network of support, whether it be the church community itself but also the Church Shelter and other services in the city where many people are coming together around the needs of the individuals we are supporting. It is extremely rewarding to see and be part of the development of a positive community around these individuals as part of a bigger picture of what the church is doing.
What for me makes the real difference to the residents of the house, is being supported by people who genuinely care for them; for whom it is not part of their job, it is their faith, humanity and love that motivate them to be involved. And as part of this process I have grown too and I have learnt from the people I have been mentoring whose life experience and outlook is broader than mine. It has opened my eyes to see the reality of what some people go through on a daily basis.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Does your church want to house the homeless? Do you want to volunteer?
If your church would like to find more about volunteering or partnering and how we can enable you to provide homes to the homeless or refugees please get in touch.