My Experience as a volunteer at Maggs;

 When I first walked into Maggs I was not really sure what my expectations were. I had done some volunteering with the homeless in London, but this was very different. I think I thought it would be quite tough and a bit challenging.  I started as a volunteer and then started hosting my own art workshops.

I love working at Maggs. Some things that particularly struck me while working there is just how encouraging the guys are to each other. Whenever one finished a painting, another would be quick on the up take to congratulate and admire the handy-work of the other.

Another thing I found was there open-ness towards mental health. I don’t think I have ever been in an environment like it. There is such a lack of judgment and a kindness towards it. If one is suffering the others may ask if they are okay, sometimes leading to a discussion on sleep, medication or circumstances. Their openness towards it is hugely admirable and something all of us could learn a lot from.

 The final thing, and I think the most important, was just how much we laughed during sessions. Whether it be a joke about my cooking ability, a date idea for one of the guys, or just a strange tangent about dangly chicken…

 I think whatever my preconceptions were; they have been totally floored, in the best possible way. I can’t pretend it’s always been an easy experience; when you hear about someone’s death, or see someone’s constant battle to get a house, or when you witness someone’s weight loss; it’s hard. I admire the guys an awful lot. I admire them for their courage and warmth; for their strength and kindness.

I would recommend volunteering at Maggs to expand your mind and challenge your preconceptions. I know I am hugely grateful to Maggs and all the service users for welcoming me into their environment with open arms.