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Spring 2014 Summer 2013

TRANSFORMING LIVES TOGETHER Transform Lives; Cultivate Talent; Release Potential

Newcomers to Friends First

Friends First offers a “hand-up” by encouraging people to take positive steps forward with their lives; enabling progression from desperation: homelessness, isolation and unemployment to aspiration: a home, belonging to a community and employment. We achieve this through our Aspire Pathway which integrates Support, Community and Work. We have seen that these three elements, working in synergy with one another, are the catalyst for lasting change in a person’s life. Our services on the Aspire Pathway include:  Crisis Intervention (Drop-in/Night-shelter/Food-bank)  Supported Community Housing (x 2 houses)  Work Initiative (Skill development and work-activity)

We recently welcomed Todd, Lisa and Mark as new trainees on our Work Initiative. Bringing a sense of fun and enthusiasm, they kicked off their “work readiness” training as part of the excellent team on the restoration project: well done guys and welcome to FF!

Restoration and Transformation Our Work Initiative includes therapeutic and creative work activity. This comprises horticulture; growing fruit and vegetables and craftsmanship; carpentry and art. Over the winter months we have had a particular focus on craftsmanship which Danny Cassidy, a skilled carpenter, oversees. This included Danny and our group of “work readiness” trainees taking on the task of re-vamping the Friends First office. They enthusiastically set to work by restoring discarded scaffolding planks into beautiful items of furniture = up-cycling! This included our reception desk, tables, shelves and partitions (see pictures). We love that our office reflects the heart of our work: “restoration”. We celebrated the completion of the office with an award ceremony for all whom took part. We’d particularly like to thank Martin, one of our trainees, who was an outstanding member of the team. Despite challenges and difficulties he preserved with tenacity and determination. His work ethic is a shining example to all at FF! Martin is pictured alongside his handiwork.

An asset to the team Chris M, another trainee, started a part-time job at the Clarendon Centre earlier this year. He has already made quite an impression on Centre manager Naomi who commented ‘Chris is a great asset to the team and a really hard worker’. Chris reflects that since joining Friends First he has grown up and made some really positive changes in his life. He is moving up to Liverpool next month and has already found a job! We’ll miss you Chris but wish you all the best for the future...

“Thank you, for giving me my son back” came the touching comment from the father of one of our trainees. After being referred to Friends First from the St Thomas Rehabilitation Fund, Chris R spent most of his time in his room, almost completely withdrawn from the outside world. Members of our fantastic support team gently came alongside him drawing him out of his seclusion and integrating him into community life, where he began to flourish. Rapid progress ensued and within months he had enrolled on a course at City College and was elected as senior peer; a role he relished. He successfully completed his course, found employment and swiftly became ‘employee of the year’. Chris is on an incredible journey of transformation, what an inspiration! Chris is pictured with his “tool belt” essential for his work.

Contact us: For more information on Friends First or anything featured in this Newsletter contact Serena Crisp (Communications Manager) on or 01273 84088

Community Lunches

Fashion extravaganza in aid of Friends First

Mike, ex-butcher and much loved member of the team of trainees, has recently become the champion of our newly launched community lunches. The lunches enable trainees, front line & FF office staff the opportunity to enjoy a daily lunch together; aiding social interaction and a positive team spirit. A true bargain hunter, he manages to prepare a lunch for around 25 people for under a tenner!

Isaac Raymond, the young and talented Brighton fashion designer, showcased his latest collection, raising £566 for Friends First. Inspired by Lady Gaga, Alex McQueen, and others, Isaac began designing at age 12. All present were wowed as dresses from his previous 2011 & 2012 collections were exhibited by stunning models. This was followed by a sensational show of his latest Over-The-Rainbow collection, inspired by the fairy-tale Wizard of Oz. True to its name, this latest collection is vibrant with colour, reflecting Isaac Raymond’s love for intense dramatic themes. Thanks to everyone who made this event possible, your contribution is greatly appreciated.

We may look to extend this into an enterprise opportunity, supplying lunch to other staff in the building on a regular basis. Fellow office workers: watch this space!

Visit from the Centre for Social Justice We were delighted to welcome the Director of The Centre for Social Justice, Christian Guy, to meet some of our previous trainees. This included visiting Kevin and John who have both moved successfully on to employment and independent living. Kevin now works at the Clarendon Centre. This gave us the perfect opportunity to visit him there where he showed us around the amazing conference facility in the heart of Brighton; buzzing with activity. Then we took a drive out to the Sussex countryside to meet John. John’s story is an incredible journey of transformation. He not only started his own business but was also approached by the Wiston Estate to consider the role of full-time gamekeeper! He now rents a cottage on the Estate which he invited us to for tea and a chat; very nice it was too!

The Give as you Live Campaign Give as you live and it doesn’t cost you a penny! Hundreds of top online retailers including Amazon, ASOS, Ebay, M&S, John Lewis and Next pledge a commission for every purchase you make online to the charity of your choice. If you have enjoyed reading about our work today, we actively encourage you to sign up to the Give as you Live campaign and select ‘Friends First’ as the charity you would like to support. It takes less than a minute with only your name and email required also allowing you to download a tool bar to keep by track of how much you have raised for us. We are excited about any tool that allows us to raise funds to continue our work and appreciate you contributing in this way. We can forward the live link in a separate email which links directly to the site, making it even easier to sign up! Contact for further details.

A big thank you also to Isaac’s dad, John O’Riordan who took the reigns of the Night Shelter during the latter winter months. John did an excellent job facilitating the provision of a safe overnight space for up to 15 people per night. Friends First rose to the challenge, following being approached by the Brighton Churches Homeless Shelter to continue our night shelter for another couple of months! Dedicated volunteers like John are worth their weight in gold and we appreciate everything they do in helping us make life a little more bearable for people on the streets over the coldest winter months. Through this service, we have been able to signpost people onto supported housing and our Work Initiative.

Fundraising Champions!!

We had the fabulous “Turner Kids” running the mini mile on the 5th April to raise funds for Friends First! There is still time to sponsor them by following this link:

In the fully fledged adult category we had the amazing Rob Kirkwood running the 26.2 mile distance: a mammoth challenge! Please show your support by sponsoring him:

Entry for 2015 Brighton Marathon is open: Follow to secure your place. If you have a place we would be delighted for you to run on behalf of Friends First please contact for more details.

Make a Donation Any donation, however large or small, is really appreciated. It's great to know we've got such wonderful individuals supporting FF to transform many more lives. Please visit and select “DONATE” Alternatively you can contact Serena Crisp on 01273 840888.

Transforming Lives Together: Spring 2014  

An informative and inspiring quarterly newsletter with stories of lives transformed through the work of Friends First.

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