Frequently Asked Questions
Volunteering for sessions
After attending an induction volunteers are asked to sign themselves up for sessions using the online rota system. The password to access this information on the Volunteers Private Page
of this website will be given to you at your induction.
If you are subsequently unable to volunteer at a session that you have signed up for please ensure that you remove your name from that session on the online rota, or email to inform us via firstname.lastname@example.org
or using the contact form. A team of at least nine volunteers and staff is needed at each session to open our centre for guests. Contact Us
Each session is supervised by a Coordinator. Project workers who are skilled and experienced will, with the Coordinator and other senior volunteers, deal with any challenging situations that may arise. You will not be asked to do a job for which you are unprepared
The Gatehouse was set up to help people who are street homeless or vulnerably housed. The Guests have a wide range of life experiences and some of those can include mental health/physical health problems, addiction issues, offenders and people without families and homes. However, each person is an individual and should not be judged on their current circumstances.
The companionship and friendly welcome of the community centre is as much a part of our mission as the food we serve. Guests respond to the attention of volunteers who show an interest in their well-being. Over time, they will confide in them and feel that a relationship of trust has been formed. However, singling out any guest for preferential treatment is likely to lead to jealousy, hurt, and further damage, and that is why we cannot allow ourselves to become personally involved with guests.
While at the project, every effort must be made to avoid the appearance of favouritism.
Outside of the Gatehouse sessions volunteers should not pursue relationships with Guests and volunteers should always protect their privacy and safety by not revealing any personal information. Under no circumstances should personal cash gifts be made. If this seems difficult or unreasonable, consider whether you are able to meet all the emotional and physical demands of any individual you may feel drawn to. Please read the Professional Boundaries and Confidentiality Policies included on this website for further guidance.
Dealing with challenging situations
Some Guests of the Gatehouse can at times display challenging behaviour. However, any form of aggressive or discriminatory behaviour is not tolerated. If you encounter these, make a quick retreat and report the incident to the Coordinator or a Project Worker as we do not expect or advocate volunteers dealing with challenging behaviour.
Occasionally things can go wrong and quick decisions must be made. No one should blame themselves for doing anything which with hindsight appears to have been a mistake. Whatever has happened, volunteers should reassure each other and themselves. Debriefings will be useful after any difficult situations: these provide an opportunity for unpleasant feelings to be expressed and recognized; for motives, reactions and anxieties to be talked out; and for lessons to be learnt for future use.
It is vital to be welcoming and positive at the Gatehouse and most guests, most of the time, are polite and appreciative of our efforts. At the same time, it is self-evident that challenging behaviour can be a fact of life for people, and this can become a problem.
No volunteer should feel threatened by a guest and we will ban guests if we think they are a risk to others.
The first thing to do when in an uncomfortable situation is to get out of it. Make an excuse (such as that you are needed elsewhere), or just leave. Then, report the incident to the Coordinator or one of the Project Workers, who will decide on the next step. Similarly, if you suspect that a colleague is being harassed by a guest, offer a get-out option (‘I think you’re needed in the kitchen’) so that they can easily make an excuse.
The guests have devised a Code of Conduct at the project and we are lucky that most of them follow it, however polite reminders may be necessary on occasion.
At all times we need to be realistic about potential risks in working at the Gatehouse. This is one reason why all volunteers must be over 18 and also must sign the New Volunteer Starter Form). Safety precautions and procedures have been set for the benefit of volunteers, staff and guests, and these should always be adhered to. Additionally, you must take responsibility for your own safety, staying alert to danger and acting sensibly. Please read the Managing Risk Policy for further details.
Despite all attempts to prevent it, some guests use the Gatehouse as a place to take and deal drugs. We occasionally find bloody tissues or swabs, wrappers, syringes and needles (sharps) in the toilets or elsewhere. Extreme caution must be exercised when dealing with such items. Volunteers should never put their hands in a place they cannot see (between chair cushions, behind lavatories, in wall cavities) because of the risk of a needle stick injury.
If you find a syringe or needle, or any drug “works”, report it to the Coordinator or a Project Worker immediately, taking care to prevent other volunteers or guests from disturbing the items. Only Coordinators and Project Workers who have been briefed on the safe handling of such paraphernalia are authorised to dispose of them, using special apparatus for the purpose.
If you suspect drug use or drug dealing (the smell of cannabis, groups of people in the toilets, the exchange of money in the hall, or a marked change of behaviour or demeanour on the part of a guest), notify the Coordinator immediately and be prepared to describe what you have seen.
The Gatehouse use of volunteer data is in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2018 and it will only be held for lawful and operational purposes. The Gatehouse will not sell volunteer data on to any third parties and it will be held and destroyed in a secure manner once it is no longer required. Please refer to the Gatehouse General Data Protection Regulations 2020 Policy here for more information.
If you would like to request a copy of the personal information that the Gatehouse holds on you (as a volunteer) or to request a Right to be Forgotten* if you think that this data is not being held for a lawful purpose please write to the CEO Katrina Horne via email@example.com and you will receive this within 30 days of the request date.
*The right to be forgotten means a right to request deletion of your data if not held for lawful purposes.