Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Hostel hobbies

May 22 2009
Don‘t just sit there reading happily - look busy! Recent research suggests that people engaged in activities they find meaningful are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or suffer mental ill-health. The result is that homeless hostels are more interested than ever in how residents are spending their free time; it is no longer enough to stay out of trouble and to leave the staff to browse the internet in peace. To be a good resident you now have to be occupied, and occupied meaningfully at that. However there can be a sizable difference between a resident's definition of what's meaningful and the hostel's. If you're not working or in education, what you are doing probably won't be meaningful enough for the hostel's liking, and you will find yourself being persistently nagged to take part in an in-house activity. This wouldn't be so bad if these in-house activities weren't so half-hearted and, dare I say it, meaningless. Every hostel seems to have an art group, cookery, and possibly a weekly trip to a cultural hotspot (usually the Tate Modern). And that's it. Fine, if you enjoy these, but even then another problem is that an activity's success is often judged on the number of attendees rather than what they are getting from it. In order to bump up the figures every resident is asked to attend every activity. It's no wonder that many residents decide to opt out and find their own activities. Unfortunately, watching a documentary on TV, reading a book or discussing current affairs with your friends will probably not meet the hostel's criteria for meaningful activity. This is odd considering that drawing a picture with some crayons has no problem meeting the criteria, but there you go. If you are not participating in any hostel sanctioned activity and also spending a lot of time out of the hostel or in your room, you might even find yourself labelled as self-isolating, unmotivated or depressed (workers love playing psychiatrist). So, what to do for a speedy move-on? The best advice I can offer is to play the game. If you aren't interested in the hostel's activities, make sure the staff know that you are spending your time fruitfully. And if you're bored and in need of something to do, remember the hostel will listen to any suggestion you make; they have to. Go through the right channels, whether this means filling out a suggestion form or raising it in a residents meeting. Get your fellow residents doing daily Tai Kwondo.