Gary Groves, age 53, volunteers in The Whitechapel Centre kitchen every Saturday morning, he is also the Patient Mentor for The Whitechapel Centre based at Brownlow Health, providing health service in the heart of the city.
My day starts with …….
I normally wake up around 5:00am; get washed, changed, check my diary and potter around in my office whilst listening to my local radio station with a cup of tea and give my dog Roxy her daily chew stick. I take Roxy out for her usual hour walk around the local park, when we get back I finish getting ready and leave for work after saying goodbye and I love you to my Roxy.
I’m responsible for ……..
As volunteer chef, I cook breakfast on a Saturday morning for people accessing the support services at The Whitechapel Centre. There can be up to 60 breakfasts served up each morning, which is a challenge, but I love the idea of giving people who have slept rough a good meal to start their day. In my day job during the week I support people attending the Brownlow Health Surgery. I work with Brownlow Health patients, people sleeping rough, people who have alcohol & drug dependencies, and other vulnerable adults that may be in danger of becoming homeless or have various problems in their lives.
I got the job …..
As a result of three years hard work, studying to gain accredited qualifications in different areas of the Health & Social Care sector following my own treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in the Sharp Treatment Centre. My Support Worker from The Whitechapel Centre organised a place on a Pre-volunteering training course as part of my support plan. The course helped me build my self-esteem and confidence, which enabled me to start interacting with other people again. The training also helped fill my days, which was very important to keep me busy and focused on my recovery. After graduating from the training course I began to volunteer for The Whitechapel Centre working in a range of roles from supporting clients, accompanying visits out, to cooking breakfast in The Whitechapel Centre’s kitchen. I then became a mentor for Liverpool Waves of Hope project, helping clients with complex needs and I was eventually offered employment in my current role at Brownlow Health to support The Whitechapel Centre’s service users attending the GP surgery.
My typical day…..
Like most people that work supporting homelessness I don't really have a typical day. Every day is completely different , you just don't know what issues are going to come in through the front door. As a Patient Mentor Support Worker, for Brownlow Health the support that I give can simply be making a phone call or filling in a form to discussing very complex problems and finding the right help to meet their needs.
My most memorable moment……
I have many memorable experiences whilst working for The Whitechapel Centre and The Brownlow. Making a difference in peoples lives and being able to support, guide and listen to what they have to say and being able to achieve a positive outcome regarding their Health & Wellbeing and other personal issues is extremely rewarding.
The worst part of my job…..
I absolutely love my job, and I couldn’t say there was a worst part. However I really don’t like how in today’s society, there is so much stigma, misunderstanding and ignorance surrounding the issue of homelessness. I am very passionate and empathetic, and I will go to any lengths to help someone and to make a difference in their life.
The best part of my job…..
I work closely with the nurses and doctors at the Brownlow Health Surgery and The Whitechapel Centre Homeless Team; this vital collaborative work creates positive results for the people we work support, which is great for all concerned.
I am grateful for…..
The Whitechapel Centre and the staff, I will be forever grateful as they have been and still are a major factor in my recovery today.
I enjoy the company of my amazing loyal companion Roxy, my 7 year old Rottweiler, and taking her for walks. I love listening to music, and keeping fit. I also attend AA & CA Meetings as part of my continuing recovery for which I am a Sponsor ; supporting other struggling Alcoholics and Drug Addicts.
On a Saturday, I return to my volunteering role at The Whitechapel Centre to cook breakfast. The most important meal of the day, especially if you have been rough sleeping.
If you are inspired by Gary's story, and would like to find out more about volunteering at The Whitechapel Centre click on the link below to find out more about the skills we’re looking for and the current volunteer vacancies: