Volunteering gave a third aspect to my life – Meet Paul

Launch Housing passionately believes in the invaluable contributions that volunteers make across all our services. They are an integral part of our work to improve the lives of people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness.

Paul’s perception of homelessness has changed irrevocably through volunteering with Launch Housing. No experience of homelessness is the same, and over time he’s learnt of the complexity and uniqueness of each story by listening to staff and people experiencing homelessness.

As a freelance Production and Technical Manager, Paul studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, and now manages live music and theatre events.

“In practice I’m 100% with the Conservatory of Music for University of Melbourne. I deal with the venues, and square away all the paperwork and contract work when required. I’ve worked for dance, theatre companies, and a significant part of my career has been with opera and ballet companies.”

When he turned 40 Paul found himself wanting to give back to the community.

“I knew I had capacity and Launch Housing ticked so many boxes. I lived locally, so Launch Housing’s Southbank crisis accommodation seemed like the right fit. I was excited to find out that the organisation was researched-based which means it learns from past activities to influence its future services.”

Launch Housing Southbank is one of the largest crisis accommodation sites in Melbourne. For the last seven years Paul has visited Foodbank three times a month. Following a list provided by the Southbank team, he fills a car with the needed supplies such as milk, pasta, snacks, yoghurt and other items.

Paul is an expert car packer, and ensures space in the boot, back seats and front seat are filled with as many items as he can manage to fit in. It’s then delivered to Southbank, and sorted by Paul and staff to give to residents in crisis accommodation.

Volunteering gave a third aspect to my life, where I have work and play, but now I also prove to myself I have more value than my pay check.

About a year after Paul first started volunteering, he was made redundant but found solace with his Southbank family.

“It was an incredibly anxious and stressful time so having access to the professional listeners at Southbank –who stepped up to let me know that I was part of the family and the team – it was like having a separate support network. I thought I was helping them but in fact they were helping me.”

For Paul, volunteering has become a key aspect of his identity.

“The best way to help yourself is to help others and cultivate a purpose. I think volunteering builds a sense of perspective and does tremendous things for your mental health and self-worth. You don’t get it from the pub, gallery or theatre or whatever people choose to do outside of work.”

If like Paul, you want to volunteer and make a difference in your community, you can find a range of opportunities to help us in our mission to end homelessness.