This Volunteers Week, we're shining a spotlight on some of our amazing volunteers.

Nina volunteers for the Youth Homeless Helpline, answering calls from young people and providing advice and support to help them keep themselves safe.

The Covid-19 pandemic currently prevents us from training new volunteers to take calls on our Youth Homeless Helpline. We will be looking to resume full training as soon as it’s safe to do so. You can apply to become a Youth Homeless Helpline Volunteer by emailing [email protected] or at the link below.

Apply to be a volunteer 

Nina's Story

I’m one of Llamau’s Youth Homeless Helpline volunteers. I’m a mum to two teenagers, which I think definitely helps me in my volunteer role. I love to read, listen to music and try my hand at new things like crafting and gardening, although I have to admit I need to get better at not killing my vegetable plants!

I started my volunteer journey with Llamau last year but took my first call this March. Having worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, I felt like the role would suit me, taking calls and talking to a variety of people. I’ve also always had an interest in housing and the issues faced by young people today so the role makes me feel like I’m being useful and giving something back.

Michelle at Llamau made me feel at ease from the very beginning. Her passion came across to me so I couldn’t wait to get started on my training and taking the calls.

I can’t remember the details of my very first call but I do remember being very nervous that night. I think I quite literally sat in one spot for the whole four hours scared to move but I’ve quickly realised I don’t need to be anxious. I’m much better at pronouncing Llamau these days as well!

Every call is different in some way. Some are simpler than others but every call teaches me something new, which I really like. I’ve learnt so much through the role from how housing differs depending on individual circumstances to rules and regulations in force across different areas of Wales.

One call that I remember well was from a woman trying to help a friend of hers get off the streets. Her friend had been sleeping rough for about two weeks but that night we managed to agree a space in a B&B for him from the following morning. There are normally so many issues that prevent a caller's needs being resolved that same night so this was a real moment for me. I felt like I’d really done something helpful.

Sadly, there are calls where I’m unable to help a person that quickly. I took a call from a woman sleeping on the streets with so many complications that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get her that help she needed. The team were able to get in touch with her the next day and offer support. I did all I could on the night but of course it felt horrible leaving things like that.

Even when feelings like this occur, I continue my role taking calls because I believe being able to offer any sort of help to a caller is my main priority. I worry about people facing homelessness or sleeping rough or who’re living in dangerous environments, so I want to do my part and help however I can. If they didn’t have the Helpline then they may not have anything or anyone to turn to.

Having two teenagers myself definitely brings me closer to the role. When a 17 year old calls the helpline telling me they’re about to be thrown out of their home, I feel a lot of care and empathy towards them. It’s important to show you care and to not pass judgement. There’s a myriad of reasons this young person may be calling for help. I might be in a position to get them the help they need.

I take calls two nights a week from 5pm to 9pm. Since lockdown I’ve had a number of calls from people who’ve found themselves homeless and who, due to the Coronavirus, cannot sleep on a relative's or friend's sofa like they might have done before. It’s a very sad and challenging time right now, so it’s important the Youth Homeless Helpline continues to offer the support it does.

I absolutely love my volunteer role. It’s been a really good experience for me and I’m hoping it’ll expand my prospects. I’ve felt supported from day one by Michelle, but also the other women on the Youth Homeless Helpline. They always call to check I’m okay, which is so important during this time when face to face interactions aren’t an option.

I’d tell anyone considering volunteering for the Youth Homeless Helpline to GO FOR IT!