Stories from guests, volunteers, trustees and friends of Devizes Opendoors  

One of our regular volunteers, Caroline Reid, who is a shift leader and trainer, has been getting to know some of guests and volunteers and in this regular feature on our website we will publish her stories.

Here is Caroline's latest interview with trustee Liz Evans.

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Armed with an introduction from Hilary, I turned up one drizzly Friday morning at the home of Open Doors’ trustee, Liz Evans. Liz made us tea and we sat down at her dining table to chat; she is one of our newest trustees. But, you ask, what is a “trustee”, what do they do? Our trustees are responsible for legal matters, policies, fairness and sound direction of our services, and also for the money - raising it and budgeting it. Their job is to take the long view, making sure we have the right services, run in the best possible way to help our guests. Some of the trustees’ work may sound kinda dry, but for Open Doors to run properly, these kinds of matters have to be thought through carefully! Plus, some people really like those tasks because they have the right sort of mind and experience for it. Liz told me she had worked for years in public sector services for the vulnerable and disadvantaged as a program and service manager, especially with children in Devizes and Swindon, so she brings a lot of relevant experience to the Board of Trustees.

Liz had heard about us through John Saunders (Chairman) who had been a colleague at one time, and she got started by visiting drop-in sessions to see where she might fit. Because of her own working experience she already had an interest in homelessness in Devizes and once retired she wanted to make good use of the time available. She quickly saw that she could bring her talents to bear on projects like the severe weather night shelter and the possibility of starting a shared housing facility here. Liz believes that although change often seems slow, actions as simple as telling another person about Open Doors’ work starts and keeps the ball rolling.

Our guests are a varied group, she noted, with all sorts of backgrounds and vulnerable in all sorts of ways, facing all manner of challenges. With volunteers also from a variety of walks of life, with diverse skills and experience, she sees Open Doors as uniquely placed to make a difference to local homeless people. Her ability to see connections and help people to find common ground in order to work better, plus her years of experience helping people grow and develop make her a gift to us!

I asked Liz what words of encouragement she wanted to pass on. “Take advantage of every offer of help that is made available - everyone deserves help.” she said. Keeping some kind of hope is also essential to keep going when one’s situation is bad; and, perhaps hope involves staying connected with people who can relate to your situation and people who can help in some way.

Being retired and having moved from Swindon, Liz and her husband Dave love to spend their spare time walking in the wonderful countryside surrounding their home; they are also music buffs and love hearing live music around town. She says that yoga is a great thing for health and relaxation, and doing puzzles (including jigsaws) is good for the brain! She also sings with the Devizes Good Afternoon Choir, which is good fun! How wise to have a varied life: giving time to work with others on a community need affecting so many people, balanced with country walks and live music. Thanks, Liz, for sharing with us!

Through the Opendoors

Shaun's Story