Volunteer Experience at Dublin Simon Community
“Since I started the last two years of school, I knew that I wanted to go abroad after getting my A-levels. I thought that spending a year volunteering in a foreign country would be an incredible experience for someone who faces a completely new chapter of their life.
I had to start applying at the beginning of my last year of school. I knew I wanted to stay in Europe and that I wanted to live in a country where they speak English – which eliminates every country except the UK and Ireland. To be honest, until my German sending organization “VIA e.V.” suggested applying for the placement with the Dublin Simon Community, I never thought about going to Ireland, I only focused on placement in and around London. However, I applied for working with the Dublin Simon Community and six months and an interview later; I was accepted and started planning my year in Dublin.
When I arrived in Dublin, it was my first time to leave home and my friends and family for a long period of time, so things were a little chaotic, extremely exciting and sometimes nerve-wrecking too. However, Dublin Simon Community managed that all four of us German volunteers arrived around the same time, so we did not have to go through the settling in process alone, which was great!
We all became very good friends and explored Dublin and Ireland together. Ireland has so many incredible places to offer, that even after ten months, I still have some spots left, that I need to visit.
Dublin is a beautiful city, and it is so fun to just stroll around town and find little hidden places. I already came back once after my EVS and I plan to visit a lot more.
Before I came in to work on my first day at “Chester House”, I was extremely nervous about meeting the staff and the residents. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The staff team was great and I was welcomed with open arms. Everybody was extremely helpful and tried their best to make settling in easier for me.
Having never worked with people experiencing homelessness before, I was not too sure how to act around the clients at first. But, I quickly noticed that they were doing their own thing and that it was best if I made myself available and offer help but not be too strong in wanting to engage with them. After a few weeks the residents started opening up to me and I knew how to interact with them and learned how to support them in a way that they liked best.
Sure, some days were more challenging than others, as working with people experiencing homelessness also means dealing with people who have a tough history but the Dublin Simon Community offers a great support system. The Full Time Volunteers were offered several training, such as fire safety and I found great support within my staff team. They are all wonderful people and we also spent time together outside of work during Team Days, which gave us an opportunity to get to know each other in a non-work related environment.
Coming to Dublin and working within the Dublin Simon Community had made me grow so much as person. I learned to live by myself, manage my own money, I worked full time for the first time in my life and I faced situations that taught me more than every school lesson ever could.
I formed friendships, that will hopefully last a lifetime and I got to know the Irish culture with all its lovely songs, traditions and charming accents.
I am very thankful for the ten months as a part of the Dublin Simon Community and I would not want to miss it one single bit.”