Abigail has recently started volunteering at the Oasis Centre. She shares some of the things that she has found most striking in that time.
The Oasis Centre has always been a massive part of my life, and was always being discussed at home when I was growing up. I never thought I would volunteer there, and I hadn't ever wanted to!
Everything changed when I went to a community meal at our church, where a lot of Oasis guys usually come to eat and hang out. Over a quiz game I got into a conversation with a couple of Oasis regulars, and my heart was absolutely taken. In one evening I felt like family to them; they were honest and real. I suddenly had a strong desire to serve these amazing people and asked if there was any opportunity to get involved.
I have now been volunteering at the Centre for a month as part of Dushy's RE-BUILD team. This program deals with any and every problem that Oasis clients run into, ranging from issues like debt, housing and benefits.
The first thing that struck me was how no-one can prepare you for that kind of role, you simply have to get stuck in and learn on the job. This is because you have no idea what kind of issue is going to be brought to you, or what kind of state the client will be in. Most of the time I had never heard of the issue, and so had to research and understand how that particular benefit or housing system worked. That's when I knew that the only thing that could get me through was a steadfast heart of complete love. I realised that there was no way I could do this job well if I took God out of it; I would become cold-hearted and detached. God showed me that my mind and heart needed to be aligned with His, because I was working with His loved ones.
There was one case where I was dealing with a family who were applying for a residence card for their adopted children. This was an overwhelming and complicated 100-page document that I'd never seen before. It eventually took 4 days of going back and forth, occasional communication struggles, Tipp-Ex, and working out the terrible wording of the document when we eventually came to the end.
I remember handing over the document for the father to sign and feeling an immense sense of pressure that the future of the family was on the table in a booklet. But because I had been given the time to get to know this family I felt comfortable to be able to ask if we could pray before it was sent off. They were all up for it and together were a group of familiar faces and friends praying over something we had done together.
My role at Oasis is not just sorting out problems but with every session I'm gifted the opportunity to get to know someone new, to build something with and get to know their beautiful quirks, talents and personalities. I'm given the chance to love individuals that the world has rejected; now that's a real privilege.
If you would like to know more about volunteering at the Oasis Centre, please email firstname.lastname@example.org