Volunteer Q&A: U-turn
One Common Grounder shares her experience of volunteering at U-turn, a Common Good partner organisation which works alongside people living on the streets.
Full name: Catherine Hannington
Congregation: Rondebosch PM
Occupation: I have just finished studying law and I am taking a gap year to do volunteer work.
Tell us a bit about what you do at U-turn.
U-turn runs a weekly Bible study for women who live on the street. I meet with a group of about eight women and we have a time of fellowship, worship and teaching.
When do you go and for how long?
The Bible study takes place every Thursday at 11am and runs for about an hour and a half. I meet with two women who work for U-turn to prepare on a Wednesday.
What drew you towards volunteering in this specific way?
If one looks at Jesus’ ministry on earth He was always found amongst the broken and hurting people. In Luke 4 v 18 Jesus reads out the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that says, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”. 1 John 2 v 6 says that “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did”. I really just felt as I read the Bible that if I wanted to draw closer to Jesus, I needed to spend time with the poor. I really felt that God wanted me to make it a regular part of my life. I chose to help people living on the street specifically as I drive past them every day and I wanted the opportunity to make a difference in their lives.
Did you have any hesitations/anxieties about volunteering with people who have been living on the street/in shelters? How did you overcome these?
I was a little bit worried about how I would be able to build genuine friendships with the women as I was not sure how to relate to them as I am much younger and our lives are so different. From the moment I met these women they were so welcoming and friendly. They were all so happy that I was there and we were able to chat freely and openly about our lives.
How has your volunteer experience changed the way you view ‘street people’?
My volunteering experience has really just shown me that it is not difficult to approach people who live on the street and chat to them. It is possible to build friendships with them despite the fact that our lives are so different.
What has been you biggest highlight/revelation, so far, from your time at U-turn?
I have had so many highlights in the short time that I have been at U-turn. I feel like I am learning so much about life through these women. I have learnt what gratitude really means and how blessed I am. I have struggled with anxiety, but hearing these women’s stories and the real problems that they face daily has helped me to put my problems into perspective. Last week I prayed for one of the women who had a swollen gum and needed to go to the dentist and I came back the following week and she was overjoyed by the fact that Jesus had healed her. It was so amazing to see Jesus moving in the lives of these women, and I’m so expectant for the things that He will do in the future!
If you would like to find out more about getting involved at U-turn, please send us a message: