We work with homeless people. They have aspirations and goals, just like the rest of us. These goals and aspirations may seem to some readers of this newsletter to be basic. But we all know that opportunity does not come to all. Not all of us are able to take advantage of opportunity when it does come along. These are the challenges we face.
At the core of the three-year strategy, we agreed last year, was precisely a wish to do more to help people make sustainable change in their own lives rather than give them, or even worse do to them, what we thought they needed.
We’re now two thirds of the way through the first year of that plan. We have also just been successful in a bid to the Big Lottery for funding for three years for part of our work.
So we took a look at where we were going and what we said we would need.
We have two wonderful new members of staff. They bring high standards of professionalism and great energy and dynamism to our work. We are also about to add to the staff team someone who will support people as they begin to think about getting back into work.
I spent a work experience day at a Pret a Manger shop recently. It was inspiring to hear an apprentice, previously homeless, talk with enthusiasm about getting up in the morning and going to work. ‘It’s normal’, she said.
For the rest of this year we have two challenges: space and what we have called the Winter Night Shelter. We are acutely short of space, particularly rooms for private conversations with those who use our services and area for workshops. The Winter Night Shelter is invaluable – as others tell us – in helping people on the streets to move on, a place for transition. But why only the winter? A place of transition is needed not just from December to mid March.
The organisational challenge of running a safe and welcoming shelter is immense. It requires intensive support from all our own services and those provided by others. We are looking at how we can build on our already considerable achievements and experience. This will help us provide even more effective transitions for those who need and will benefit.
The people with whom we work face huge challenges.
It is their challenges that are our starting point. Our end point is when they overcome those challenges and manage to move on.
It takes an enormous effort from them and intensive and creative work from staff and volunteers (to whom a big thank you) for them to reach that point.