What the Caravan taught me about being brave

I was a volunteer at the Caravan between April 2005 and July 2006 – not a long time, yet a powerful and profound experience that I won’t forget.

I chose to be a counsellor at the Caravan because I thought it would be a particularly challenging placement for me. I’m not brave and the idea of sitting, alone, in a small space, right in the heart of Piccadilly, not knowing who would knock on the door – and being pretty certain that those who did would be at a crisis point, deeply upset or disturbed – was not something I would normally choose to do.

It wasn’t how I had thought it would be. I never once felt scared there. I learned more than I ever dreamed I would from those who came, and from the remarkable group supervision sessions lead by Zak. St James’s, too: its ambience, its staff, the market traders and the evening peace all added to the sense of being held in a safe place.

Now, when I feel that sense that something is too much or too scary, I remember what being in the Caravan taught me about self-reliance, determination and trust, and I feel grateful and inspired.

Rosemary Cowan