Street Assist (SCIO) was founded in April 2016 by myself and a group of volunteers who wanted to make a difference at the same time as supporting and assisting people who had become vulnerable through circumstance. The project delivers a non-judgemental, safe environment for people to access during the hours of 10.00pm to 04.00am every Friday and Saturday evening throughout the year.
The project exists to help support the night-time economy of the City of Edinburgh, including but not exclusively the Emergency Services, providers of night-time recreational activities, the citizens of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas, visitors and tourists who come to the city to sample its culture and heritage; attending the many festivals and events which attract people to the city. We aim to support our emergency services with the view to reducing the number of people attending Accident and Emergency unnecessarily and contributing to the Community Safety Agenda, making Edinburgh a safer city where all people can enjoy its nightlife free from harm.
I first became aware of Good HQ from Twitter and kept an eye on what it was all about before finally deciding to create a profile. There is so many social media/web opportunities to promote your work and you have to decide which is best in terms of time management given that we have no full-time staff; in fact, there is only one staff member, working two days a week and this includes looking after every aspect of the charity, so time constraints dictate what is and isn’t a priority. We have a great following on Twitter and Facebook already and this was where we mainly promoted the project. I see Good HQ as a good mix of the 2 aforementioned platforms and from what I have seen on Twitter many other organisations are now joining also.
Since creating our Good HQ account thirteen of our volunteers have posted excellent reviews about their volunteering experiences with Street Assist and it is an excellent way for people thinking of volunteering to find out what it is all about, see positive stories shared by existing volunteers which may encourage them to apply to join an excellent team of people who do such great work. It also gives us an opportunity to post reviews and good news stories about the project which again may help others decide to be part of our story and future development. I also believe that in developing relations with other charities, seeking funding or sponsorship then it is an ideal opportunity for others to see first-hand what the volunteers’ comments are, and reviews left by others to help determine the impact our work is having.
It would be unfair to single out any one review as my favourite because everyone who has posted so far has their own story to tell and knowing each one individually I have a good idea on why they chose to volunteer with us. I have seen people grow in confidence, people who have used this experience to apply to or join the emergency services, people who have probably surprised even themselves as to how they tackle the many situations and challenging situations we face on a weekly basis and the delight when we have a positive outcome for someone in their time of need or crisis. Some are also using this experience to enhance their CV and to help with their future employability prospects after taking time out to raise their family.
This is no ordinary volunteering position, the hours are very unsociable, our clients present with many varying circumstances, yet this amazing group of people take it all in their stride. In many ways I would say they don’t get the full credit or respect for what they do in some quarters, but they have my full admiration and respect and I am sure the 1300 people we helped in 2017 feel the same. For a project which receives just £20,000 in funding we have helped save the public purse close to £1,200,000; which I am sure you will agree is an outstanding figure.
I also created a Good HQ page for another charity I am employed by called Care and Repair Edinburgh which I hope to develop in much the same way as I did with Street Assist so watch out for posts on this page also over the coming weeks, especially during Volunteers Week from the 1st to 7th June.
If you are considering joining Good HQ I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to you. Lauren Pluss from Good HQ does a fantastic job tweeting when a new post has been placed on your main page, it certainly helps raise awareness and increases the profile of the charity. So well done all at Good HQ for all your hard work!!