NEWS Issue 9 • Autumn/Winter 2016
Since the last Newsletter... • Steve started a full-time job • Damien started a part-time job • Harry was homeless for 3 years and has just moved into his own flat • Tony received his first ever certificate - see page 3 • George received funding for an online course to retrain • James has been sober and stable for nine months • Reece reconciled and returned home to his family • Jenny moved into the first home of her own • Bob and four others passed their Level II Food Hygiene qualification • Mark transformed our allotment [Some names have been changed.]
Also in this issue...
The Sound of Music is in the air...
This year, for the first time ever, we have started a music group . Thanks to a generous donation, we • Activities spotlight: see what invested in a keyboard, we’ve been up to - Pg 3 bass guitar, a number of • An LHS staff member tells percussion instruments of his recent volunteer work and even a set of new harmonicas! From the rock sounds of Tom on the island of Lesvos - Pg 4 Petty and Steve Harley to the pop stylings of Ed Sheeran and • An ex-client turns life coach - pg 4 Charlie Puth, we are giving it all a go and having a wonderful time • Out Of A Pickle products are taking doing it! Music can be so uplifting, giving hope in a moment of the Christmas Markets by storm - pg 5 despair and joy in the midst of a battle with depression. We • Managing Emotions project comes will be performing at our AGM - see back page for more to an end - pg 6 details. • Meet two clients and read their stories - Pg 2
Ellie’s battles make her more remarkable
For 20 years Ellie worked as an Executive Assistant to Senior Execs at International Companies. This would be an achievement for anyone with dyslexia but after a routine eye operation went wrong, Ellie had more eye operations to save her sight so she missed a year off school and left before taking her GCSEs. Ellie struggled with dislocations, torn tissue muscle, reactive arthritis, chronic pain, immune disorders, IBS and depression. No-one joined the dots previously, but three years ago an osteopath thought she probably had EhlersDanlos Syndrome (EDS).
Home is where the kids are Nick Matthews went into hospital earlier this year knowing that his legs and his marriage were in bad repair. What he hadn’t expected was to come home nine days later, unable to walk unaided, and find his belongings in bin liners. Homelessness was a bolt from the blue: “I’ve never been in this situation,” he says, “I had nowhere to go and I couldn’t walk.” For Nick, a carpenter and architectural glazier, lack of mobility is bad enough. “I can’t do building sites now,” he says. The father of six, based in Horley, Surrey, ran his own business until the downturn caused its collapse. Luckily he, his wife and their three youngest children could sell up and move to a flat. But his money and health problems put the 11-year relationship under strain and after knee surgery and a short stay in hospital, he needed find somewhere else to live. Reigate & Banstead Borough Council were unable to rehouse him but told him about East Surrey Outreach Service (eSOS). This June eSOS offered him a hostel in Crawley but he feared that, immobile, he’d be unable to defend himself against rough sleepers. He slept on a friend’s sofa until eSOS phoned again to offer him a place at LeatherHead Start. “It’s amazing,” he says of LHS, “a breath of fresh air. Within 14 hours I had a place to sleep, and help and support. Nobody’s judging you. They take you seriously. And they are all the same: they all have the same attitude and they’re all concerned for you.” He gets three meals a day and treatment to bring his clinical depression under control: “I couldn’t believe I’d fallen on my feet like this. I could have ended up in some scruffy, dirty place where they don’t support you… There’s so much here that’s helped. I cannot thank people enough for their support and guidance. It’s unreal.” Nick has started along the road to retraining himself for a career in IT. Cherchefelle, a local supported housing association, has now offered him accommodation but he’s keen to get back to Horley and his three youngest. When his mother brought them over for lunch recently, he says, “they wouldn’t let go of me.” Photo above: Nick with Shirley who runs the LHS Job Club on Wednesday afternoons.
The welfare system hasn’t been kind. When Ellie, in constant pain and suffering with fatigue, had to stop work five years ago and she was taken off ESA and put on Job Seeker’s Allowance instead. A year later Ellie got back to work and managed to hold down a job for over 2 years. However when Ellie got ill again last year, her savings ran out and she couldn’t afford her private rent. At first she sofa surfed but ended up sleeping rough. It was then that her £20/month gym membership paid off as she slept in a the gym car park and showered at the gym: “I might’ve been homeless but I would not let my illness control how I look on the outside even if I’m in constant pain on the inside.” Ellie wants to work and loves using her brain, but as she explained, “It kills me to walk, it’s exhausting and the fatigue can take away days and weeks at a time, then I get more depressed.” Desperate, she asked for help from Epsom housing department, but did not qualify for ‘priority need’, even though she was sleeping rough, which was making her EDS unbearable. Ellie had lived in Epsom her whole life but because of a brief spell outside the borough, from which she returned just over a year ago, she had lost her vital ‘two year local connection’. Epsom housing passed her on to East Surrey Outreach Service (eSOS) which found her a place at LHS. She said, “At first it took a little time to adjust but the staff are lovely. You’re treated well and it’s clean, safe and dry.” Ellie has a way to go to gain longterm housing and longs to get back to work. She’s determined to battle one day at a time and hoping to get her GCSE’s in English and Maths. “I’m doing this for my own self-esteem. Even though I am still adjusting to having EDS and working out how I can lead ‘a new type of normal life’ I can’t give up on myself!”
Learning and Opportunities
We are passionate about providing opportunities for people to learn new skills that will empower them to lead the lives they want to live. Here some of the things we are doing to achieve this...
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Kaylea is learning to drive thanks to funding from the Leatherhead United Charities We ran another computer basics course in partnership with the Surrey Lifelong Learning Partnership.
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Clients having fun learning skills that help them manage their own tenancy.
clothing to meet refugees before the buses arrived for them: “The work is tough. What the refugees have gone through is horrible. You dream about it when you go to sleep.” Until recently, he says, “they had entirely normal, westernised lives in a relatively secularised, middle class country. Now they can’t do the simple things they want for their kids. They are cold, hungry and frightened.” “There’s no dignity in it. You see a 50-year-old man who bursts into tears because you have found him a jacket that fits.” One man told him, “’I am an engineer. I hope I can be of use in your country.’ That’s not the point,” says Ivan. Project Relief Worker, Ivan Tucker, “You’re in trouble and someone should tells of his recent experience on the island of Lesvos working with refugees. help you.” It’s 24 years since Ivan Tucker, then 17, what elevates this organisation.” Worse still is that “their hopes will be volunteered as a relief worker at what But last year Ivan saw the pictures dashed in terms of what their life will was the Leatherhead Night Hostel. of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body be like in the west. They’re going to end He’s still here, but meanwhile he’s on a Turkish beach. With Ashcombe up washing cars sleeping six to a room done a lot more than help the local School he started Dorking Welcomes paying rent to some Rackman-type homeless. Refugees to send clothing, toiletries landlord.” Fifteen years ago Ivan took a two- and other basics out to Greece and LHS has had refugee clients in the year full-time garden-design course: Syria. Then, “I wanted to understand past, as well as serving soldiers. The “I wanted to have done something what was going on. I wanted to go out UK should be taking so many more else.” Then he built up a business there.” So he raised crowd funding to refugees, he says: “The Lebanese are while continuing as a Project Support spend two weeks on Lesvos, the Greek doing it. They’ve taken three million Worker at what became LHS. island where many of the refugees refugees, and they’re poverty stricken!” land. Now he works several shifts a month at LHS alongside the garden work. For Two weeks became two months him, LHS is not just about giving people which he struggles to sum up: “Odd, If you would like to find out more shelter. He cites Kat Moore’s learning moving, disturbing.” When refugee about the work of Dorking Welcomes development role, which helps clients boats appear the lifeguards tell the Refugees, please visit their blog here: develop skills in the arts, or practical volunteers. Ivan’s role was to load a dorkingwelcomesrefugees.blogspot. skills, such as allotment work: “That’s car with foil blankets, hats and other co.uk
Homeless: global, not local
A limitless lifeline John only stayed at what was then the Leatherhead Night Hostel (LNH) for two weeks, and that was in the early 90s. But LHS is a source of support, not just a place to sleep. And John can still rely on the help and advice he knows is behind the red door at No 3. Born in Britain and now 51, he grew up in foster homes on a small Caribbean island after his mother died when he was three. His father had been a railway worker in the UK. When John moved here as a young man “I had lost everything” and had nowhere to stay. After moving from one hostel to another he found the LNH. He met Angela Carter, now LHS’s manager, when he first arrived. “She’s my rock,” he says. “She always helps me solve the problem and gives me good advice.”
John has done a lot with his life, despite recurring mental ill health. He didn’t finish A Levels but caught up well enough to go into teaching as a science and maths master at a local secondary school. But he’s proudest of his role was as an (unpaid) sports coach. He loved “seeing children achieve their goals.” He “fell in love with studying” while working at the Morrisons grocery chain. When he chose to study life coaching skills by distance learning, friends and colleagues tried to dissuade him. But once he’d reassured Angela that the course was genuine, she said he should go ahead. He passed with a distinction: “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “It gives
you a sense of self-worth. I was doing a course 99 per cent of people told me not to, and I stuck it for 12 months… it proves I’m not a quitter. I achieved something I thought I couldn’t do.” John hasn’t lost the taste for study. Already on another course, “I’m spreading my wings a little further,” he says.
The pick of picklers
Behind the red door they’re pickling flat out for the Christmas season. Since LHS launched its ‘Out Of A Pickle’ range of pickles and chutneys last November (last issue), says ‘head pickler’ Jo Buonaguidi, sales have neared 300 jars. LHS began Out Of A Pickle partly to publicise and raise money for LHS but mainly to give cooking and business skills to help them stand on their own two feet. It’s vital that the project pays for itself, says Jo, but “the way we measure its success is in seeing the satisfaction of the faces of clients and volunteers.” And it’s worked. “They blossomed,” says Jo. One client was really worried that she might be embarrassed to meet old friends at the Effingham Christmas Fair launch. But before long she’d put on an apron and cap and mixed up a tray of samples to take round the room. “It’s been a really good experience,” agrees fellow volunteer Gerry Warren. Gerry once worked in a café-delicatessen, and Jo says she “holds it all together in the kitchen”.
Above left to right: Tony organising our stock and Gerry and Lynne preparing our fresh courgettes Below: Our products for sale this year - also keep an eye out for our gift sets which are only £12 each!
Out Of A Pickle Sale Dates and Locations
So if you want to do your bit for homelessness you know where to buy your Christmas pickles this year. And look out for the multiple-jar gift sets.
*14th October 9am-12pm - Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
*19th November 11am-3pm-Manor House School, B’ham
*21st October 10:15-11:30am - Bookham Country Market (Old Barn Hall)
*20th November 10am-4pm - Effingham Golf Club
*5th November 10am-2pm - Leatherhead Theatre *10th November 4-8pm - St Mary’s Church, Stoke D’Abernon *11th November 9am-12pm - Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
*25th November 12-6pm - Reed’s School, Cobham *26th November 10am-3pm - Old Barn Hall Bookham *3rd December 11am-2pm - City Of London Freemans
*8th December 4-8pm - Bookham Late Night Shopping *Come to the early ones to avoid missing out! Check our blog - theprojectpicklestory.tumblr.com - for updates.
Managing Emotions Project For the past year, LHS has been leading a project designed to help people who are homeless to manage emotional reactions which may be blocking their efforts to achieve independence.
The project was funded by Surrey Homeless Alliance. We teamed up with Catalyst, an organisation which works with people experiencing mental health and substance misuse problems, in order to develop and deliver a series of workshops that would equip people to better manage their emotions in stressful situations. We have delivered this series of workshops five times in three different locations across Surrey and we are currently in the middle of our sixth and final series. We have received good feedback. One client, after attending the
workshops, was able to have a really positive meeting with his exwife and social worker, resulting in him being able to have contact with his children again. Another client said, ‘What I learned in the workshops helped me to deal with my court case - I was able to take ‘time out’ to think through the situation and be more rational about it. I also was able to feel more empathy for others involved in the situation.’
Above: Clients attending the workshops Below: Zoe & Emily, the Catalyst trainers
It has also been a valuable opportunity to build closer links with other organisations in Surrey. The project is due to finish in the middle of October when we will present a final report to Surrey Homeless Alliance, setting out what we have learned from this project and how it might be taken forward in the future.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Exxon Mobil for their generous donation of a brand new cooker and dishwasher! The cooker is going down a treat with the Out Of A Pickle team (see page 5) and is enabling our clients to learn valuable life skills. Look at that shiny hob! Pictured left: Richard Scrase of Exxon Mobil with LHS Chair, Myfanwy Tothill and Learning Development Worker, Kat Moore
AGM Invitation We will be holding our AGM on
Wednesday 19th October from 7-9pm at the Letherhead Institute, opposite the hostel. Everyone is welcome to come and hear about all the work we’ve been doing. Our music group will also be performing so please do come along to support us if you are free!
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