Martin Cooke is a resident of Wells and a volunteer in Yeovil. He gives up his weekends to welcome homeless guests into the Yeovil Night Shelter.
I volunteer at the Yeovil Night Shelter. I arrive at 7pm on Saturday evening and get back home at 9am on Sunday. It’s rewarding, but tiring.
During those hours other volunteers and I welcome homeless folk off the streets of Yeovil. We offer them a warm drink or some soup and take down some of their personal details before allocating them a bed for the night.
The other volunteers and I usually camp down in the kitchen for the night and in the morning prepare a simple breakfast for the guests before they go on their way.
The police and street pastors will pop in their heads and say hello during the night as a show of good will.
The purpose of the shelter is not only to provide a bed for the night, but also to try and break the homelessness cycle by encouraging guests to take up our offer of extra help and support. Breaking the cycle for some is difficult: their life is on the streets; it’s their lifestyle; it’s where their friends are; and for some it is difficult to imagine anything different.
God is obviously showing to me that there is a need for my time and skills in Yeovil and I believe at some point you have to show compassion and do your bit. The thoughtfulness and compassion I want to show to others is borne out of my Christian faith. For me it’s about sharing Christ’s love with others.
Reading (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NRSV)
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
Martin has felt called to Yeovil to help there. The reading today points us to the fact that God has given us so much, so many gifts to equip us to serve him and the common good. Martin feels that work with the homeless is a good fit for him. It uses his skills and is an opportunity to demonstrate his faith which he says gives him the caring attitude he needs as well. In return he offers himself and his time for the guests and hopes, with other volunteers, to be part of the first step when people want to move on from their current circumstances. Where will you use your gifts today?
We first shared Martin’s story as part of the Bishops’ Lent Appeal 2017