Relationships are at the heart of all we do at Glasgow City Mission. And we couldn’t do what we do without our amazing volunteers who give up their time week by week to come and get alongside our guests.
Linda McLarty has been volunteering at our city centre project for an amazing 20 years – so we asked her why she keeps coming back.
When did you start volunteering and why?
I started volunteering January 1999. I had realised that just going to Church was not enough, I had to put my faith into action and do something! Shortly afterwards two girls gave a talk in our Church about Glasgow City Misison. I thought, “that’s something I could do”, so I took the bull by the horns and arranged to come along as a volunteer.
How was your first shift?
Horrendous! The reality of opening the doors to 72 of some of the most vulnerable men in Glasgow really took me aback. I considered not going back, but decided to give it another go. What can I say, that was 20 years ago and I’m still here!
Why did you keep coming back?
I encountered many broken men and women and I thought, they all belong to someone, they are someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, dad or mum. I would like to think that if it was one of my family in this situation – someone would show them love and compassion, regardless of how they ended up in their situation.
Also when hearing the life stories of our guests, I wonder if could I have coped any better than they have – I really don’t think so.
What have you got out of volunteering?
I am sure I have got a lot more out of it than I have given. I love meeting the guests, getting to know them and building up trust with them, which in turn allows them to open up and talk to me. This has been enhanced by the fact we now sit down with the guests to eat dinner together and this gives us more time to build these relationships.
The main highlight for me has to be seeing guys who were once guests now volunteering or working for the mission, or just generally feeling more positive about their options in life.
If as a small cog in a big wheel I can make just one person feel better on the day I meet them – then it is all worth it.
I have learnt that there are a lot of very broken and unhappy people about, and sharing the hope that my faith gives to me helps people in some small way. I don’t need to do anything other than be kind and listen.
Find out more about volunteering
Our volunteers are essential to all we do. And as Linda says, you get a lot out of it.
Find out more about who we're looking for, what's involved and how to apply. Find out more here