Volunteering Heroes

Meet one of the army of CENS volunteers, giving up their time to support the homeless. Karen is a relatively new volunteer and has joined the team to help keep our little courtyard garden in shape. Here Karen tells us why she decided to volunteer and shares why it is so rewarding.

“I learned about CENS around 10 years ago. When I retired in 2012, I started volunteering at The Samaritans, and the shelter is just around the corner. A Samaritan friend and myself supported CENS whenever we could. Then, when I left the Samaritans and joined Rotary Forum, I encouraged the other members to support the homeless charities too.

As well as volunteering in the CENS garden, I listen to children reading at The Iceni Academy and help fundraise with Rotary Forum. I arrange charity collections and also knit tops and scarves for Ukrainian children with a knitting group in Wivenhoe (where I live).

“Hopefully I can help someone, for whatever reason.”

“I enjoy meeting people.. I’ll talk to anyone! I guess I knew that I would need to do something worthwhile with my time after I retired as a registered nurse. Hopefully I can help someone, for whatever reason.

I met three of the residents when I was trying to dig out a pumpkin for Halloween. Digging is not my thing at all, so I am more than happy for any residents interested in the garden to help me out. Gardening can be quite therapeutic… well it is for me. There won’t be too much to do now until the Spring, but we will keep it ticking over until then.

I think It is so important, to not only try and help rehabilitate homeless people, but also to spread the word about homelessness .. the reasons and consequences. Breakdown of family life, leading to financial trauma, job loss, drink, drugs.

Volunteering can be very fulfilling. Using the skills and knowledge you have to offer, you may realise that you have other skills you weren’t aware of. I love gardening, flowers, planting bulbs. My father was Dutch and a nurseryman here in Colchester after the war. Hence my love of the land.”

We are looking forward to seeing the results of Karen’s hard work in the CENS garden. If you have a skill or a hobby which you think could help benefit the shelter and our residents, maybe volunteering could be for you. Get in touch, or to find out more about volunteering head to our Get Involved page.

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you