Despite Covid, the volunteers are there!

Thursday 12 November 2020

Volunteers are an essential part of the reception of homeless people at the Wanteraktioun night shelter. Interview with Andrea Beestermöller, coordinator of volunteering at Caritas Luxembourg, on how volunteers are mobilised for the Wanteraktioun night shelter.

What have you done to mobilise the volunteers for the Wanteraktioun night shelter?

The first thing we did, at the beginning of September, was to contact all the volunteers who had participated last year and ask them if they were interested in participating again this year as well as explaining the measures that are being taken to protect from Coronavirus both the volunteers and the users of the Wanteraktioun. We also contacted people who throughout the year had expressed an interest in volunteering with Caritas Luxembourg, but for whom we had not found a suitable mission, either because there were enough volunteers in the field in which they wanted to get involved, or because access to certain structures is limited for the moment because of the Coronavirus, or because of their fluency in French. Finally, we published an appeal on our website which was very successful. Thanks to these actions and the partnership we have with the BGL BNP Paribas, we currently have more than fifty volunteers who take turns at the Wanteraktioun night shelter.

Is this enough?

With 50 volunteers, we can already function well. To function ideally, however, we would need at least 60 volunteers. So if there are people interested, they can still come forward.

What do the volunteers do at the Wanteraktioun night shelter?

Volunteers prepare and serve breakfast and dinner, distribute towels for the shower, give out keys for personal lockers, direct people to the dormitories or the dining room, etc. Every year, we organise an information meeting with all volunteers in advance, as well as a site visit. This year, the information meeting was organised by videoconference and the site visits are taking place in small groups.

Beyond this precious help, the volunteers give the users of the Wanteraktioun this feeling that there are people who are interested in them, who care about them, who are mobilised for them and for whom they count. This is why volunteers are essential and irreplaceable and we thank them very much, today even more because of the sanitary situation, which is not easy. We also understand, however, those people who this year cannot participate because they are themselves vulnerable or have vulnerable people in their close entourage.

What is being done to protect from Coronavirus both volunteers and users?

We have reviewed all the flows and critical points with a focus on the safety of users, volunteers and staff. The two latter wear a mask continuously. Disinfectants are available just about everywhere. At the entrance door, the temperature of the users is taken. It is mandatory for users to wear masks when meals are served and when moving within the building. Tables have been set up in front of the refectory counter to create a greater distance between volunteers and users. Plexiglass panels have also been added. Everything has been done to guarantee maximum safety.

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