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University staff member volunteers her spare time to help the homeless

A member of staff at the University of Gloucestershire is devoting her time, along with others, to help homeless people in Cheltenham this Christmas.

Lauren Jordan, 29, from Charlton Kings, an Events and Alumni Officer, gives her time along with a small group of other volunteers from Trinity church, Cheltenham, to give out food to the town’s homeless.

Lauren is one of many staff and students at the university who volunteer their time to the local community. Lauren logs her volunteering hours as part of the university’s Bank It campaign, which aims to bank 18,000 volunteering hours by the end of the academic year.

Working with the Street Team, Lauren goes out into Cheltenham every Thursday evening, firstly to collect the food from local coffee shops that participate with the church, and then distribute to people who are living on the street. Lauren said: “We go out, collect, set it up and distribute the donated food”. However, it’s more than just handing out food to the homeless for Lauren and the Street Team, Lauren said: “We serve and chat to them and signpost the people we meet to other things such as local services that can help them, including housing, benefits and counselling that the might not have considered using. We offer prayer and encourage discipleship and community and we also have holistic help such as women’s sessions at the church where a hairdresser comes in and it’s these sorts of sessions that help with self-esteem and general wellbeing that can go in some way towards making them feel valued.”

Lauren recently moved to Cheltenham after relocating from London to begin working at the University. Lauren’s mum, who volunteers for Transform Ministries Street Team, inspired her to begin her voluntary work a few months ago. And in the short time Lauren has been volunteering, she’s got to know some of Cheltenham’s homeless community. Speaking about her volunteering work, Lauren said: “I’ve met all sorts of people, and it can be really hard to see people in difficult situations. Homelessness can happen to anyone, I’ve met people that have had a bit of bad luck, and their life has totally changed.”