So what is it like being an Open Doors' volunteer?
This is what Jen had to say:
Q. How long have you been a volunteer?
A. I have been doing this for several years. I started when Sue Kemp was co-ordinating the Project in St John’s Parish Rooms.
Q. What do you do?
A. I am part of a fortnightly Wednesday Kitchen team. We usually cook a full English Breakfast, but if we are short staffed we may do sausage and bacon rolls instead. I am the chief egg and mushroom fryer and also heat up the baked beans – quite a responsibility! We usually cook up to 16 full breakfasts, which includes a vegetarian option, and some people may request a bacon and sausage or egg roll to take away, if they haven’t time to sit down and eat.
We aim to start serving around 10 am, and it can be a bit hectic when we are trying to get 6 different items of food, plus toast, on to each plate but it always looks very tasty.
Q. What do you like about coming?
A. I enjoy doing something that is making a contribution to the community, and trying to understand more about homelessness, which is now a major problem in Britain.
At home I am not an enthusiastic cook, but breakfast is just about within my skill set and there is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from serving up a colourful and appetising meal. We always manage to have a good laugh while cooking, and it is really good to meet other volunteers and get to know them.
Q. How else are things changing?
A. Guests come and go over time, so there are always new people coming in and the atmosphere has a friendly buzz to it.
The food serving is now much more organised, and guests can help themselves to tea and coffee and cereals while they wait for a cooked breakfast, and they help us by clearing their plates and mugs to a designated area when they have finished.
We now have more volunteers involved with reception, and talking to the guests, which is good.
Many guests will stop and thank us for their breakfast which is something that didn’t happen much in the early days, and this is good because we like to know that they have enjoyed their breakfast, and it gives us the incentive to carry on cooking and hopefully getting it right.