Doorway is an extraordinary project. From its humble, passionate beginnings, it has always managed to be more effective than would seem possible on the small amount of cash available.
In my experience, volunteers sometimes seem to underestimate their contribution. Every tiny action contributes and often it is just a listening ear, some empathy or encouragement that makes a huge difference. Helping someone without hope to manage one small thing [often by a great effort], can be inspirational. I have watched this happen and it is possible to read the reaction clearly as if it is spoken – “if I have managed to do that, then perhaps the other aspects of my life that seem impossible are not so out of reach after all” – enabling that person to try other things, to improve their life and expectations themselves.
Not everyone is able to attain a positive outlook without first feeling at least stable. Sometimes the role of a project like Doorway is to help someone not to slip. Volunteers perhaps do not fully appreciate how simply keeping someone on an even keel is valuable, making the task seem less useful perhaps. It is therefore very inspiring to see volunteers bring new vitality and hope to each session.
I have witnessed many instances when a volunteer has said or done something relatively modest or unassuming, unaware that it has had a positive and lasting impact.
The staff have great commitment: with their energies and abilities they doubtless could be very successful in more commercial fields but there is something else that drives them, a community spirit and belief in people [most of whom believe too little in themselves] that is all too rare in this age.
It is impossible to measure the knock-on effect of what Doorway does is. I know of several people for whom it has dramatically transformed their lives, sometimes practically, often in important but less obvious ways – such as self-seteem and hope for the future. I particularly notice the social effect: marginalised people with little or no sense of self-worth mutually supporting each other, caring for and about other people.
Doorway’s value to society is impossible to estimate [but very easy to underestimate]. I also work with police personnel and nurses: those who know about Doorway tell me they recognise that its work saves the NHS and Police services vast amounts of money and resources.
The volunteers and staff create an atmosphere where, although they often have large numbers of guests, it feels very much as though they are simply looking purely at the individual. This is more difficult than it looks.
As a community composer and music leader, I have been involved with many community organisations over the last 40 years, both large international projects and small local groups. Two particular aspects of Doorway’s organisation and administration strike me as exceptional: their sharp focus of purpose and the amazing amount they achieve on a tight budget, representing incredibly good value for money.
About my knowledge of Doorway:
I have been familiar with the Doorway project since its early days and have visited regularly for several years as a composer and musician running workshops there, latterly with a colleague who was so impressed after assisting me for a one-off session there that we now run the workshops together.