Belle Makes a World of Difference

During National Volunteer Week (20 – 26 May), Launch Housing is sharing stories from our volunteers to acknowledge the generous support they provide. By giving up their valuable time and expertise, volunteers support our organisation in its mission to end homelessness.The following is the story of Belle, a volunteer at Launch Housing who enjoys learning and loves interacting with people.

Belle is motivated by the immersive aspect of the Duty Support Volunteer role at Launch Housing East St Kilda (LHESK) where she volunteers. After looking for a new volunteer role to help make a difference in the community, she started volunteering at LHESK in 2016.

Belle takes an active approach to her involvement and interaction with women residing at the crisis accommodation site.

LHESK offers crisis accommodation, case management and advocacy services to women who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, and many clients have complex needs, and have experienced significant trauma.

This site is unique as it’s one of the only homelessness services in Victoria to employ and accommodate women only. It also offers services to trans and gender diverse individuals who identify as female.

“My best advice for people looking to volunteer at Launch Housing is to have compassion, an open heart and accept people for who they are and where they are at.”

Belle says every day is different and the dynamics can change quickly, as residents come and go. There are many odd jobs which require attention. Prior to volunteering at LHESK, Belle didn’t realise there were so many women facing homelessness due to financial difficulties, domestic and family violence and other significant experiences of trauma.

(Image: Launch Housing East St Kilda staff. )

Belle says, “Many women experience homelessness, regardless of age, and that was surprising. So too was the fact that they had nowhere to go. It’s tough to see people face life events and traumas with no family or friends to reach out to for support.

“Although people can face many difficulties on a journey of homelessness, no two experiences are the same, so it’s important to be open, non-judgemental and look at each situation through a lens of compassion.”

“For most women, a stay at LHESK is one stage in what’s possibly been a long journey. You don’t know what else has happened to these women along the away, so I don’t take things personally if a resident is having a bad day.”

For Belle, volunteering is a way to give back, and it also means she keeps learning about life, people and has an opportunity to care for those within the community.

Belle has a proud history of volunteering, and she has no plans to stop. She’s committed to advocating for community service sector organisations and has been volunteering at LHESK since September 2016.

Find out more about volunteering with Launch Housing.