Newsletter Autumn/Winter 2013

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NEWS Benefit changes may bring risks for homeless people says Manager Angela Carter LeatherHead Start and other charities are now preparing for the impact of the welfare benefit changes amid rising homelessness. The Welfare Reform Act 2012 makes the biggest changes to benefits since the 1940s. The Act’s stated aim is ‘reforming the welfare system to help more people to move into and progress in work, while supporting the most vulnerable’. That remains to be proved. But LeatherHead Start and other agencies working with vulnerable people all over the country are aware of the unintended consequences that may occur when the changes begin this autumn, taking effect in Surrey next year. We have to speak up for vulnerable individuals with complex social and medical needs who may otherwise be forced into unsuitable work or

fall foul of a direct monthly payment system which leads them into debt. Homeless Link, the national organisation for front-line homelessness charities in England says: ‘Claimants using homelessness services are amongst the poorest in society and often some of those furthest from the labour market. In creating a universal credit model for the majority of claimants, it is important to ensure it also works for homeless people rather than inadvertently marginalising them’. These changes take us into uncharted waters. LeatherHead Start has a welltrained team ready to help our clients to navigate safely. We will keep case studies of their voyage and report back in our next newsletter.

Go to for help and advice on the benefit changes.

In at the deep end LeatherHead Start’s newest Project Support Worker is Priyanka Jehlwal, 22. LeatherHead Start isn’t her first experience of working with the homeless. For a month before her final university year—she did a degree in criminology and psychology at Coventry—she volunteered at a 36-bed hostel for the single homeless at Kings Cross. She had applied for an administrative role but when offered project work she took it. “It gave me some practical insight into what homelessness is really like,” says Priyanka. Her background helps: Priyanka’s mother is a care assistant, and her sister is a housing support worker. Priyanka says the training Kings Cross gave her in counselling skills, and the experience of running some workshops there helped her understand the clients’ situation really well. She welcomed the chance “to empower them to take control of their own lives”. The comparison with LeatherHead Start is stark. The London hostel’s meeting rooms were modern but “the bedrooms were not that great,” and there were shared kitchens, bathrooms and other facilities. A lot of drinking and drug use went on in the rooms, hygiene wasn’t good, and clients could be abusive. But she loved the diversity of the characters there and when a vacancy came up in LeatherHead Start she jumped at the chance. “When I came here and saw that the whole place had been refurbished I thought, wow, this is amazing.” Now she says, “You get great support and the clients are lovely.” She’s particularly impressed that, when the staff have house meetings, the clients are included too. Priyanka has begun by shadowing Jo Parker (see last issue). We hope she enjoys her work here.



A parting gift from Trevor Smith... Trevor Smith stayed with us 23 years ago and died in January this year. With the help we gave him, he eventually settled into a small flat in East London where he lived happily for many years until he moved, shortly before his death, to be near his family in Horsham. At his funeral we received a kind donation from his family with which we bought this bird bath for the garden in memory of Trevor; a dear man.

Would you like to win this beautiful, handmade quilt? Enter our CHRISTMAS RAFFLE DRAW. Winners to be picked on December 12th at the hostel. 1st prize: Beautiful hand-made traditional quilt 2nd prize: ÂŁ50 cash 3rd prize: Lunch for 2 at Blue Cafe, Leatherhead Tickets are ÂŁ1 each and available to purchase from the hostel office. The funds from the two raffles of traditional quilts, made especially for us by Catriona Burvill, will be used to buy a sewing machine for the hostel clients.


Leatherhead Start Phone: 01372 377790 Address: 3 Church Road Leatherhead Surrey KT22 8AT For general enquires: For Manager: For the Chair of the Board: