A BLACKBIRD Leys charity has launched a volunteer initiative to help the homeless and vulnerable.

Connection Floating Support wants volunteers to work with full-time support workers and outreach volunteers to help those in need.

Clients are referred from organisations such as Oxford City Council and district councils, churches, charities and other homelessness services.

New volunteer Toyah Smith, from Headington, said: “I’m training and shadowing the mental health team. I’m really enjoying it.”

The 31-year-old, who works as a cleaner said: “I’m doing it to gain some skills and experience.

“I’d like to be doing something a lot more rewarding.

“I haven’t had much work experience and I want to find out what it is that I’d like to do and what avenue I’d like to go down.”

She added: “It’s nice to help and support people in their home and to help them live independently.”

She is working with support worker Rob Atkinson, who said: “We go to clients and do assessments and decide whether to take them on, then through a support plan to help improve their lives.

“We’re planning on starting Toyah with one of her own clients.”

He added: “I believe volunteering is the best way forward if you want to work in this service.

“It gives volunteers great experience and gives them a target.”

Volunteer co-ordinator Angela Dormon said: “Being an independent living mentor involves helping clients with tasks such as budgeting, accessing employment, training and community services, all of which help them to maintain their independent living.”

The work with homeless people aims to support rough sleepers into getting stable and secure accommodation.

She said: “We are looking for a bank of volunteers, who may not be called upon on a regular basis, who are early risers, as this involves joining the outreach workers on morning wake-up calls, usually from 5.30am.

“This is the first step in working with street homeless people where they are made aware of the outreach service and the support they can receive.”

For more information, email Ms Dorman on AngelaDormon@ ConnectionFS.org