Susan’s Story – Fresh Start
Susan, a Hearts’ fan for over 30 years, converted her passion for DIY into a volunteering role with the charity Fresh Start. As part of their ‘Hit Squad’ she helps previously homeless families settle in their new homes.
How did you become a Big Hearts Supporter?
I stopped working and after 8 months I got bored! When I saw the fantastic supporter initiative from my beloved Club I knew I could use all my free time to do something useful. To me, anything that helps the community while involving the Club is beneficial because it also has a positive impact on its reputation.
What do you do as part of the Hit squads?
In a team with other volunteers, I visit people who have been homeless in their new home. Our intervention means we help make their new tenancy their home by painting two rooms and giving advice so they can feel confident to do the rest themselves. We let them choose the colours and I’m sure it makes a huge difference for them to feel it’s now their home.
What are you getting from this volunteering experience?
I learned so much about homelessness! Anyone can be affected, families, single parent, people with mental health issues, it’s a very wide spectrum. I had no idea some people have to wait up to two years to get a permanent accommodation. Before I was so judgemental, I think I am definitely a better person now because of that. It helps me appreciate more what I’ve got.
Do you have any significant memories to tell us?
Well, there was a young man who was my son’s age. It was his first home and hearing about his story and his life made me very emotional. There was also a lovely family with lot of kids and in a sense it made me think about my children too. To mention a funny memory, one day I painted a room all in bright green. It was the bedroom of a Hibs fan!
Would you recommend becoming a Big Hearts Volunteer?
Absolutely, it’s not just for retired people! You can volunteer whenever you are free, and helping others really makes your life richer. It’s a fun environment and you really enjoy yourself – particularly when there are other Hearts fans in the ‘Hit Squad’ because you will be in the same room for few hours! Football is also a good topic to remove barriers with tenants who are shy or quite isolated.