Volunteering - Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do I need special experience to volunteer?

No, apart from a desire to serve and a compassionate heart for those who are rough sleeping. Training will be provided, including some background information on homelessness and preparation for common issues faced.

What does volunteering involve?

The shelters operate every night from 1 January to 31 March each year. Each night we need volunteers to help on different shifts and with different tasks, including setting up of the venue, welcoming guests, staying through the night, and helping to clear up afterwards. You can volunteer for as much time as you are able to offer.

There are different shift options available:

  • 21:00 to 23:30 - Set up & welcoming guests

  • 23:30 to 06:00 - Overnight

  • 06:00 to 08:00 - Breakfast and closedown

  • 08:00 to 10:00 - Morning coffee & reception at the Gate House

Great, I want to volunteer! Where do I start?

Step 1: Even if you have volunteered before, register online and select a training date to attend
Step 2: Attend the volunteer training
Step 3: After you have attended your training, you will be invited to sign up online where you can select different dates, shifts, and venues.

Can I volunteer at a specific venue?

Yes, after you register for and attend training you will be able to pick the venue, dates, and shifts that you are willing to volunteer for. We encourage people to be flexible to different needs and are thankful if you can volunteer in different venues, for different shifts, or if you can be on-call. We are most in need of volunteers to do full overnight shifts.

Is there parking available?

Some venues offer limited on-site parking while others may not, though most are easily accessible from central Oxford. You will receive more information once you sign up for specific shifts.

Will I ever be working alone?

No, OWNS operates with teams of volunteers and a Shift Leader, so it is important to make sure you will be there for any shifts that you have signed up for.

What if I can’t make it to my shift on short notice?

We do understand that things come up and, again, are thankful for anyone who can volunteer. If you know that you can’t make it for a shift that you have signed up for, please change your assignment online as soon as possible so another volunteer can select the shift. If your plans change on the same day as your shift, please contact the Project Manager as soon as you can by e-mail or over the phone (call, SMS, or WhatsApp): +44 7522 774162.

I can’t volunteer, but can I help in other ways?

Please visit the support us page on our website to find out specific information on how you, your Church, your college, or your business can donate or explore partnering in other ways with OWNS.

We would also be thankful if you can share the advert for volunteers at your church, workplace, college, school, or other community. You can download, print, and display the A4 poster with all the info needed to register to volunteer at this link.

What about my personal information?

We only collect personal information for the purposes of running the shelter programme. Please read our full Privacy Notice to learn more about how your information and data is collected, stored, used, and protected.

What if I still have questions that are not answered here?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us through e-mail, over the phone, or through the post. You can find all of our details on our contact page, or you can e-mail the Project Manager directly.