To celebrate Volunteers Week, we sat down with Caroline Reed who has been lending her time and talent as a volunteer for Bethany.

How did you become a volunteer with Bethany?

I’m from Atlanta, Georgia and I attend Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. We have a program that has a connection to Napier University and also an internship program, so we went through this application process and I got lucky enough to get matched with Bethany Christian Trust. I did some research on the organisation before I came and was really excited to work with you guys but really had no idea how big of a blessing that it actually would be.

What are some of the things you’ve been doing as a volunteer?

I’ve been getting to volunteer with fundraising, event planning and volunteer management as well. I’ve loved getting to work in both of those areas because I feel like I’ve gotten to see many different aspects of Bethany and I have a more holistic view of what they’re doing. I loved my time getting to go to events and also seeing all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. But I’ve loved being able to see Bethany in action like getting to volunteer with the Care Van and going to see Bethany House.

What have you learned about homelessness during your time as a volunteer?

I’ve just learned so much, not only about homelessness in Scotland and the really harsh realities that exist, but also about all the things that Bethany is doing to combat that. I am leaving with a lot of hope for where Bethany’s going, what they’re doing and how they’re engaging in the community.

You’ve mentioned how you’re going to leave Bethany with hope but how would you say that you have benefited specifically from your time volunteering with Bethany?

I feel like I’m going to be thinking back on this experience for a long time and still be learning and processing from it. I really enjoyed the corporate side of fundraising. I shadowed Ann McLaughlan at meetings and really liked how she got to advocate for Bethany, and I also enjoyed how advocacy came into play with the Bethany Ambassadors manual that I helped create. I really enjoyed that because I want to spread the word about the things I am passionate about. I was really excited to be a part of getting the word out, hopefully empowering people to use their own gifts and abilities to come alongside Bethany and work towards more transformation in Edinburgh.

You mentioned the ambassador manual. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how you’ve been working on that?

The Bethany Ambassadors Manual is a training and information tool that aims to equip a team of Bethany champion ambassadors to go out and talk about Bethany, raise awareness and also to expand people’s thinking about what Bethany does. It highlights the issues surrounding homelessness specifically, and how we need more volunteers to get involved – not just with the Care Van and Shelter, as Bethany has a vast number of projects requiring volunteer support. My goal was to create a programme outline that gives clarity to what Bethany does and helps Bethany expand their reach within the community.

Have there been any particular highlights during your time here at Bethany, any standout moments?

The Big Sleep-out – that was really cool. I loved that event. I loved the community that it draws and that it’s a sweet memory for everyone who was involved. I love that this event brings in both little kids and older folks, and everyone comes together for this one sole purpose of supporting those less fortunate.

What would you say to someone who’s considering volunteering with us?

Absolutely, absolutely, it was brilliant. I think the difference between volunteering at Bethany and other places is that people at Bethany genuinely care about their volunteers. They really do have a gift in seeing potential in other people and making sure that they are at a place where their potential is being met and that they are growing and learning. I think that’s largely one of the reasons why Bethany is making a big impact and the organisation has a pretty steady stream of volunteers who want to give their time here because they feel valued.