Volunteers at women’s shelters protect vulnerable women and children from abusive and dangerous situations and support them in their times of need. Women’s shelters provide a safe and supportive environment to the survivors of domestic violence or harassment. Volunteers at women’s shelters help women access the resources that can help rebuild their lives. Volunteers are a part of supportive services, empowering the women survivors to regain control of their lives.
Volunteers at women’s shelters are unbiased and offer support to all individuals, regardless of age and race. They play a crucial role in helping the residents feel secure, cared and loved. However, there are certain expectations from volunteers at women’s shelters. If you opt to volunteer at a shelter service, explore more about what can be expected from you.
Why Become a Volunteer at a Women’s Shelter?
Becoming a volunteer at a shelter home is a rewarding and impactful experience. By volunteering at a shelter house, you make a positive impact. Your efforts lead to providing comfort and support groups and classes to people in need. Volunteering at a shelter house means you are giving back to the community and helping the vulnerable members of your society.
Volunteering at a shelter house stimulates empathy and understanding; it allows you to listen to others and gain perspective on life. You get to learn about the struggles of life. You also learn and develop skills, as volunteering provides valuable experiences. You may learn skills related to communication, handling trauma, crisis intervention, conflict resolution, and teamwork. Volunteering also allows you to contribute to breaking the stigmas of society.
Volunteering fosters personal growth and helps in building meaningful connections. You can connect with shelter residents, staff, and other volunteers, to create a sense of purpose. Volunteering at a shelter home does not mean you have directly dealt with the residents; you can also volunteer for administrative tasks. By volunteering, you create an example and become a source of motivation for other people. Being a volunteer demands dedication, empathy, compassion, and willingness to learn and support people.
Common Expectations for Volunteers at Women’s Shelters:
Being a volunteer comes with a set of responsibilities, and you are held accountable for your duties and tasks. Let’s learn more about the expectations from volunteers.
As a volunteer, respecting the residents’ privacy is extremely important. You are expected to understand the sensitive nature of the shelter residents’ issues and challenges. You cannot disclose the resident’s personal information to anyone, not even your fellow volunteer.
If a shelter resident is sharing their experience or how they felt after the incident, you can listen empathetically, but you are supposed to remain confidential about their matters.
As a volunteer, you must display a sense of empathy through your actions. A volunteer should have a non-judgmental attitude, and you must treat everyone with respect and kindness.
Even if a resident shares their story with you, do not pass any judgemental remarks. You are not supposed to add to their story or make any comment.
Training and sessions:
You are bound to take training and other classes in the shelter home for volunteers. The management provides training to volunteers to educate them about the dynamics of the residents.
Volunteers must take the training with full attention, dedication, and focus. If the shelter home provides you with any material and resources, go through it.
Commitment and dedication:
Volunteering at a women’s shelter demands commitment and dedication. You must complete certain weekly hours to maintain consistency and stability for residents.
Moreover, you must do more than skip the days, as this messes up with the routine of the residents. It takes courage and time for a resident to open up to an individual, and if the resident is comfortable with you, it can frustrate them if you are not available.
Apart from the regular training and sessions, if you are volunteering for a hands-on experience, you are expected to be always focused and attentive. Not to mention, you are also expected to provide emotional support to the residents.
You will be trained to handle crisis situations at the women’s shelter. You will be trained in de-escalation techniques, in which you will learn about involving the staff or emergency services.
Empowerment and advocacy:
Volunteering at women’s shelters demands a sense of advocacy and empowerment. As a volunteer, you must encourage the residents to feel empowered. You have to lend them support at all times.
Safety and security:
As a volunteer, you are expected to control all the safety and security issues of the residents. If a resident feels threatened and they share it with you, you are responsible for informing the authorities and management on time.
You are expected to monitor the access points and report any concerning activity. Also, you are bound to adhere to the safety protocols.
Coordination with the staff:
Volunteering at a women’s shelter is more like teamwork. You must work closely with the shelter staff, following the guidance, instructions, and training. You must respect the staff and assist them in handling sensitive issues.
Every woman’s shelter has its own set of rules, guidelines, and expectations from the volunteers. The volunteers need to learn about the women’s shelter and the requirements they wish to volunteer for
Who Can Volunteer at Women’s Shelter?
Women’s shelters welcome volunteers from all castes and backgrounds, volunteers who are committed and dedicated to supporting the mission of a women’s shelter, and individuals who can assist domestic violence or abuse survivors. However, almost all the women’s shelters follow a specific guideline for appointing volunteers.
Women’s shelters have a specific age requirement for volunteers due to the sensitive nature of the work. Volunteers at women’s shelters should be mature and have a sense of emotional understanding. Teenagers may be allowed but with supervision and a consent letter from parents/guardians.
Skills and expertise:
Empathy and attitude:
To volunteer at a women’s shelter, you are selected based on your attitude toward the cause. You must display a commitment and empathetic nature to support the victims with compassion.
Reference and background check:
Women’s shelter is a sensitive place, and the management needs to maintain a safe environment because of the nature of the service. Some shelters conduct background checks on potential volunteers.
If you want to volunteer at a women’s shelter, contact the shelter services directly and inquire about their volunteer program, requirements, and application process.
What Tasks Will I be Assigned As a Volunteer?
This depends upon your age and your qualifications. Generally, as a volunteer at a women’s shelter, you will be assigned to cater to the residents’ basic needs. The goal is to support and assist the residents with the coordination of the shelter staff. You can be assigned to lend an ear to the residents as they need someone to talk to; from time to time. Moreover, you will sometimes be assigned to organize activities for the residents to create a positive atmosphere. Volunteers are also assigned to help the administration in tasks such as: answering phones, updating data, entering data, and general office work. You must have a multi-tasking personality and be comfortable working in every setting.
Volunteering at a women’s shelter is a completely different experience; it allows you to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the impacted individuals. Every resident has a different story and experience at the women’s shelter, and the volunteers are expected to support the survivors. Volunteers are also expected to be compassionate, dedicated, and committed to creating a healing environment for survivors. Volunteering at a women’s shelter is a big step, as it is about providing service and a step toward a supportive community.
There is no strict criteria for who can volunteer at a women’s shelter. Every shelter has a different set of requirements. Volunteers should be committed to supporting the survivors of the reactive abuse. Moreover, they should be compassionate and empathetic.
Having experience volunteering at a women’s shelter is a plus, but it is not a requirement. Most shelter services provide basic training to volunteers to make them understand the dynamics of the shelter home.
The common expectations as a volunteer at a women’s shelter include emotional support, empathy, maintaining confidentiality, having a non-judgmental attitude, and an individual must be active in community outreach.
Contact the women’s shelter services, ask them about their volunteer program, and inquire about the requirements and application process. Fill out the volunteer form, and wait for the shelter service to contact you.