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www.leatherheadstart.org Issue 5 • Spring/Summer 2014

Milestones

Since the last Newsletter... • Mike is learning to read • Pete is volunteering at The Old Moat garden centre in Epsom • Rebecca is looking after baby hedgehogs in her volunteer post at the Wildlife Aid Foundation • Hannah started a childcare course at Nescot college • Daniel made his own chilli oil and we sold out at our Christmas craft stall • Robert and Greg obtained full-time work • At age 50, Steph has settled and found a home of her own for the first time in her life. • Phillip started volunteering at a local care home, The Beeches

NEWS

01372 377 790

Charity number: 1137054

No homes to go to says Manager Angela Carter

The government has recently issued figures indicating a rise in the number of people sleeping rough in England for the fourth year running. In 2013 we accommodated only 7% of the people who asked for help, many of whom were sleeping rough or on a friend’s floor. The main reason we cannot move people on more quickly and increase the number we help is the lack of accommodation available when they are ready to leave. The Chief Executive of Centrepoint, London’s organisation for young homeless, says there are ‘simply no homes for young people to go to’. But it’s not just the young, homeless people of all ages are struggling to find a place to live in Surrey.

benefit and low income, with housing benefit often falling short of market rents and landlords still reluctant to let to people receiving benefits but we have had some success in our first year with eight tenancies set up in a six month period. We can offer a great service to any landlord who will work with us to offer someone the opportunity of a home – if you are a landlord in a position to be part of the solution, please get in touch with Roy Chamberlain on 07964 173438 or email him at roy@leatherheadstart.org

Those who need help to prepare for independent living will apply to one of the local housing trusts offering supported housing but places are limited and waiting lists long. Those ready for independent living have only the private rented sector to go to. To help address this need we are continuing our MoVE private rented service into a second year. The local private rented market is hard to access for clients on

Above: MoVE client Gary happily signs his new tenancy agreement. He says: “I really like my new place and I was very lucky to find one so quickly.”

[All names have been changed.]

In this issue... • Meet two clients and read their stories • LeatherHead Start Volunteers Spotlight • Tenant Support Worker Chris Thorpe tells us the importance of a home • A visit from a youth organisation and looking ahead in 2014!

Life gets harder for homeless people in Leatherhead floods Pit Stop, a local drop-in centre for the homeless and socially isolated, along with some of its rough sleeping clients, was hit particularly hard by the recent storms. Because of flood damage as pictured to the right, Pit Stop is looking for a new building to call home.

Above: Pit Stop’s main activity room after the flooding.


Football was Kyle’s life. He might even have had a career. After all, someone alongside him in the front line played for QPR last year in the Premier League. “And I was as good as him.” He played four times a week until drink and weed-smoking took over. Then, he says, he couldn’t be bothered: “I forgot about football. I wish I’d carried on with it”. Kyle, now 25, grew up in Dorking’s Goodwyns Estate. He was the third of eight siblings and the crowding didn’t suit him. Nor did school. He left at 14. At 19 he moved in with the mother of his new son. He worked with his dad in the building trade—”I’ve always had a job,” he says—until he was convicted for dealing. He ended up serving a sentence in prison but stayed out of trouble and came out after a year and a half last July. When he came out the prison authorities gave him a “homeless” letter to present to the housing authority. The local council more or less laughed at him. Home was impossible. After five months of staying with girlfriends, sofa surfing and sleeping rough he went to see long-time acquaintance Graham Peddie, coordinator of Leatherhead’s Pitstop drop-in centre for the homeless. Graham put him in touch with LeatherHead Start and Kyle discovered that the council had referred him to them for accommodation. A vacancy came up and Kyle moved into LeatherHead Start at the end of 2013. “You won’t get better than this,” Kyle says. “The staff are pretty nice, and helpful. They’re all very good.” There’s lots going on, he says, and they can always find you something. He trains for two hours at the Leisure Centre most days, sometimes starting at 6am. When he spoke to the newsletter, he was back from four days abseiling and team working in Kent as part of a Prince’s Trust course. With nowhere to live, Kyle hadn’t been able to work. Now he has found a job, and he wants to apply for an evening catering course at Guildford College. He hasn’t touched drugs since before prison. “I don’t regret any of it. I know it was all bad, but I know now that what I did was wrong. But in a way I feel that I had to do that to make myself a better person.” Before jail, all he cared about was making money. Now, “I just want a chilled life.” And if he deals drugs he won’t see his son again. While in prison, Kyle didn’t see him for two years. He thought about him every day. It was much too long.


LeatherHead Start’s Volunteer Spotlight

We are fortunate to provide a range of different opportunities for our clients that help to build their self-confidence, basic life skills and encourage them to develop aspirations and goals for their future. Our brilliant team of volunteers with their skills, passions and talents play a huge role in making this happen. Here are just a few...

Will (below, second from the left) organises a monthly games night. Unfortunately he has to leave us soon so if you are a games fanatic and would like to take on the role of Games Night Host, please get in touch!

Paul (not pictured - he’s a bit camera shy!) organises a trip once a month. He has taken our clients on activities such as climbing, bowling, ice skating and his latest venture was Go Karting! He is also a local chiropractor and treats any of our clients who need it free of charge. His company, Aligned For Life (www.alignedforlife.co.uk) also generously covers the cost of each trip.

Vivienne (right) comes to prepare a meal for our residents once a fortnight. She is one of five volunteers who help to fill the gaps in our meals rota. This role is hugely important because it frees up the Project Support Workers to assist clients with any needs they may have.

Debbie (left) is a qualified aromatherapist and masseuse who comes in fortnightly to give shoulder, neck and head massages using her essential oil blends. For many of our clients, stress and anxiety are their constant companions and after a session with Debbie they are visibly more relaxed. If you are interested in seeing for yourself, feel free to contact Debbie on 07949 710523 to schedule a treatment.

Our clients had the opportunity to learn the art of pastry making from the master baker, Claire (above, left). Claire also came in August to run a bread making workshop.

Peter (left) keeps our allotment in shipshape and due to his vast knowledge and steady committment. Here he is picking our rhubarb which has been slowly growing throughout the winter - under a bin! We are getting ready to begin a new season and are looking forward to the fruits and veggies of our labour!

Cast your mind back to Christmas 2013... Thanks to all who purchased tickets in our Christmas Raffle, and a special thanks to Cathy Crozier at KBR Leatherhead for selling the most due to the added enticement of her delicious cupcakes and to the second place winner Andy who returned his £50 cash prize for the clients. Congratulations to our other winners - we hope you enjoy your quilt and lunch at The Blue Cafe. Combined with the funds raised from our Easter raffle, we have a total of £438 which will go towards the cost of purchasing a sewing machine. Last but not least, a huge thank you also to Catriona Burvill for crafting and donating the first prize items: two beautiful handmade quilts! We also want to extend a huge ‘thank you’ to all who made Christmas a special time for our clients this year. Every Christmas many of you from the community show that you care by providing generously and this year was no different. From turkeys and hams to festive dressings and gifts for the clients, we were certainly able to turn what can be an especially hard time of year for some into Above: Client Rick pulls out the winner as something positive. We even had hampers full of goods hand-delivered to our Myfanwy, the Chair of the Board, eagerly awaits the result! door by young people from the local Leatherhead Youth Project charity.


Four walls and a roof don’t make a home! This is a mantra which I’ve chanted for many years and about which I feel as strongly as the day it first struck me. At LeatherHead Start we endeavour to find suitable accommodation for our clients be it supported, sheltered, shared, private landlord or housing association. With housing at a premium this is not an easy task, as you can imagine. When an appropriate opportunity is found we are almost as elated as the prospective tenant. However, we realise that placing a person into a property without preparation when they may have spent a considerable amount of time homeless is usually asking too much. A home is so much more than the sum of its bricks and timber. It should be a sanctuary, comfortable and warm – a place to welcome friends and family, a space where you can relax and charge your batteries in order to cope with the inevitable demands of day to day living. A knock at the front door should not strike fear into the occupant – ‘Is it the bailiff or a debt collector?’ In order to alleviate this very real fear we run a Tenancy Preparation Course which runs for five sessions and aims

says Tenant Support Worker Chris Thorpe

to educate and supply the tools and skills necessary to sustain a successful tenancy with all that it entails, including how to been a responsible tenant, to budget, to set up monthly payments for utilities etc. and, perhaps most important of all, how to prioritise one’s obligations.

So, kitted out with the necessary expertise our client is housed but usually alone and the euphoria can swiftly be displaced by the very real worries attendant on holding down a tenancy, perhaps their first. This is where our Tenant Support Scheme comes into its own. As Tenancy Support Worker, I meet each client for an assessment and individual support plan. In some cases there will be a need for frequent visits, with others, less so. So often the skills and abilities are there but confidence is lacking and the knowledge that one isn’t ‘alone’ can be the difference between success and failure. Over the years of my undertaking this work I feel increasingly privileged and indeed humbled at being permitted to befriend those who have gone from homelessness to attaining that very basic human need – a home.

To read the full version of this article, please visit our website.

Young People Make a Difference at LHS Last September we were visited by eleven young people from `The Challenge’, an organisation that works on a local level to connect people across all ages and walks of life. These young people came for a community action day at LeatherHead Start where they prepared a meal for our clients and put in some hard graft on our allotment and garden. We are very grateful for the work they put in and look forward to welcoming them back next year. When they return it will be a different group of young people coming to learn about what we do and plan some fundraising activities to support our work. A big thanks to all at The Challenge!

Coming up at LHS...

Watch this space!

• A new season begins at the allotment • Volunteers Evening BBQ – 5th June • Street Collection – 4th October • Tenancy Preparation Programme set to run again at the end of April • The Challenge young people fundraising visit • Launch of a new befriending scheme

For more information and to keep up with our latest news please visit our newly refurbished website – now to be updated monthly www.leatherheadstart.org

LeatherHead Start Phone: 01372 377790 Address: 3 Church Road Leatherhead Surrey KT22 8AT For general enquires: office@leatherheadstart.org For Manager: manager@leatherheadstart.org For the Chair of the Board: chair@leatherheadstart.org


Newsletter Spring/Summer 2014