Newsletter Autumn/Winter 2008

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Night Hostel News Leatherhead

Number 45

3 Church Road Leatherhead Surrey KT22 8AT Telephone 01372 376508 Charity No 272817

The Leatherhead Night Hostel is a direct access short stay hostel for people who find themselves with nowhere else to live

OUR WISH LIST Working on the assumption that, “If you don’t ask you don’t get”, here goes. If there is person or company able to grant any of our wishes we would be delighted to hear from you. Speakers to talk about the work of the Night Hostel, and raise awareness. Fundraisers to finance extra staff for training and project work. Staff mentors, and job placements, to help service users back to work. Collectors of goods for use by our residents. Caterers to teach service users cost effective cooking. IT & PR experts to show our staff how to build a website and raise our profile. Trainers to invite our staff onto management and marketing courses. Committee members needed with legal or HR skills.

Inside this Issue: Tales of the monkey UK fact finding tour Roy the Rover Only a phone call away KBR’s cash books Taking a shine Award for chair When in ROME

Winter 2008

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A Resident Reflects On Christmas Past My childhood memories of the festive season were of youngsters playing happily together at family gatherings. The elders would sing around a piano, making their own entertainment. I carried on that tradition and my children would be anticipating the moment their Dad awoke to lead them downstairs where their presents lay under the Christmas tree. The smiles on their faces were a joy to behold. However, over the years I took my eyes off the prize. Christmas 1998 was my last at the marital home. I spent my first year apart from my family in a rehabilitation unit for alcohol abuse. Within two years I was waking up for my Christmas lunch in a psychiatric unit. I tried to keep in contact with my children, but I was lost. Worse was to follow. The next two festive seasons were spent at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. However, it was in that environment my life altered. One night, two weeks before the first of these Christmases, I was visited by something, or someone. At the time I could only think it to be an angel. It left me with a warm glow, and such a sense of not being alone that I started to read the bible, which until that moment had lain unopened in my cell. But a few days before Christmas my tendency to self-destruct led me to rip it up and throw it through the bars of my window. The pages lay scattered over the exercise yard. The guilt trip that followed resulted in my eagerly attending the Christmas Day service in the prison chapel where I was overcome with

Presents under the tree

emotion. The staff were kind, but it was the wonderful aroma of the fresh Christmas tree that set my heart alight. I went back to my cell still singing carols. On my release, I was fortunate to stay at the Night Hostel where I was shown Christian love and kindness. I was able to attend midnight mass with my sister and mother. An occasion I will always treasure. I was re-housed from the hostel in 2006 and was baptised two years ago. Believing in the Christian way has enriched my life beyond my wildest dreams. I regained contact with my children, which makes this coming festive season even more special. Although my mother passed away earlier this year, she had gladly acknowledged the change my newfound faith had upon me.

Thirty-five Harvest Thank Yous Every year a cornucopia of produce arrives at the Night Hostel as a result of schools and churches thinking of our needs when holding Harvest Festival services. The food, in packets, tins, bottles and even fresh, goes a long way towards nourishing our residents for the following months. We owe 35 organisations a big debt of gratitude this time around, as vans and cars arrived and unloaded the goods. Although we can’t list everyone, a special mention must go to the Cranmore pupils from West Horsley, who formed a

human delivery chain from their van to our hallway. Then there was Stamford Green School in Epsom, who took the record for stuffing such a vast amount into an estate car. Our youngest contributors were the four-year-olds from the Montessori Day Care Nursery in Ockham. However, for a display to take your breath away, the prize must go to the students at St John’s, Leatherhead, for the spectacular arrangement in their chapel. It was a shame to have to pack it away and transport it.

Tales Of The Monkey

Project Team Swap Ideas On Uk Tour In our spring issue we told you about the Communities and Local Government grant we have received to improve our building, and develop daytime services for our clients. Our project board meets monthly to progress the plan and help us reach our goal. Part of the initial stage has been to visit other hostels, and day centres, around the country. Those establishments, all of which have been through a process of change, presented us with a great opportunity to swap ideas and collect many examples of best practice.

by Staff Member Tim Tweedy Addiction, the illness, is often referred to as the monkey that sits on a person’s shoulder, ready to pounce and make them give into the desire to use drugs or alcohol. It’s hard to describe where the madness manifests itself, and when it may suddenly ‘wake up’. For most it comes out of nowhere and hits, BANG, straight between the eyes. Most of the time the monkey is quiet. At other times it is small and sleeps fitfully, but never stops watching and waiting for the smallest crack, the slightest sign of vulnerability. Then it wakes up and it's off and running, and who knows when it will stop.

As the monkey wakes From his fitful sleep He stretches his arms And takes a peek Sniff of the air Nod of the head It's time for sanity To go to bed. He opens the blinds And looks inside As rhyme and reason Run and hide Faith’s left home At humanity’s cost He’s now in control And all seems lost. The monkey lives on As the soul dies He never sits idle Very rarely cries Possessed by madness Playing only to win Definition of evil And ultimate sin. He chews you up And spits you out It matters little How loud you shout Creates a real panic Never flees in shame It lives in shadow And addiction’s his name.

A light, bright entrance hall at Faith Lodge, part of St George’s Crypt, Leeds.

Amongst the places we have been welcomed are Mike Jackson House, a single person's accommodation centre for the ex-services in Aldershot; St George’s Crypt, a world famous charity that helps the homeless in Leeds; Step by Step in Aldershot, working with single homeless and un-employed youngsters under 25, and BCHA, a housing trust in Bournemouth which has been helping homeless people for 40 years. Our visits have been extremely helpful, and often inspiring. Inspecting the garden and polytunnel at Faith Lodge.

How Roy Became A Rover When you live in a night hostel there tends to be a lot of spare time between going out in the morning and returning at night. Even after being re-housed you are on your own for most of the day. When Roy found himself in this situation he took to walking, which gave him time to think. “I must have clocked up 3,000 miles this year,” he calculated. Many places he hadn’t seen since his teenage years as a Therfield pupil. “I even found the spot on our cross country course where some of us lads stopped for a smoke before catching up with the rest of the runners.” Roy hasn’t smoked for years, doesn’t get drunk anymore or take any drugs, other than prescription ones. So why did he need the night hostel? A question he finds difficulty in answering. His wife didn’t want him at their home, and would have had him evicted if he hadn’t volunteered to leave. It was probably a combination of factors, and seems to have been aggravated by a squabble over a family will. Whatever the reason, Roy lived rough for a week last June before his sister-in-law phoned the night hostel and he was accepted. “I didn’t want to come in,” admits Roy. “But I was pleasantly surprised. Support is always there, but the staff don’t rush you, or categorise you. Doctors seem to want to put you in a box so they can treat you. There is always a friendly face, and a good atmosphere. I had more help in the

night hostel than I ever got from seeing psychiatrists and psychologists.” After three months a flat was found in Leatherhead. But as Roy suffers from dyslexia he needed someone to steer him through the paperwork involved. Also, to mediate between him and his wife, as she would not speak to him directly. This means he has still to get some items from his old home and has had to rely on the Pitstop drop-in centre for furniture donated by local people. He was adamant that “When I get my own stuff I will give everything back so that it can go to someone else.” Roy understands that he must be patient, in the hope that his wife may soon let him have some of his personal things. However, what he would really like is news of his teenage daughter. He is very proud of her, and wants to find out how school is going. Then there are his musical instruments, including guitars and mandolins. He loved playing, and has taught people in the past. But now he would like to learn how to repair them. His career as a carpenter and builder came to an end due to arthritis and carpeltunnel syndrome, but his cabinetmaker skills would give him a head start mending guitars. In fact the one Pitstop lent him to play has been improved beyond all recognition. It is good to hear Roy talk of his future aims. He wants to make his flat more homely, go on a computer course and find an economic car to get him around the district. He is back on track.

Jean Is Only A Phone Call Away Jean Thompson tries to speak to her two daughters each day. “Because, although I worry about them, they are more worried about me,” she explained. Also, every day before leaving the Night Hostel, Jean phones the English Churches Housing Trust at Vaughan House to see if there is any permanent accommodation available. She hopes y Gra to be moving there in the near future. hel Rac It all started two years ago when Jean was homeless in the Guildford area. The Borough Council ergel her the bus fare to Leatherhead because there was no space for her locally. ugave Jessie B It took Jean three and a half hours to find our Night Hostel after arriving in town. Sadly, she now knows her way only too well, as she finds herself back here after a short spell living with her boyfriend. “He got his own flat and I moved in with him for a while,” said Jean. “But then he started drinking again and asking his mates around.” That was when she moved out and needed help once again.

Jean admires the Buddleia in the hostel garden

However, things are looking up, as Angela Carter and Chris Thorpe have helped Jean apply for housing benefit and job seekers allowance. But, for the moment, she is a volunteer at Pitstop, the drop-in shelter in Leatherhead. “I sort out all the material that comes in. We have quite a lot of groceries, and sometimes our homeless visitors take a bag of goodies away with them. I did a Food and Hygiene course at Pitstop and am waiting for my certificate to arrive. In fact I learnt more in one day on the course than in my lifetime,” Jean admitted.

Kbr’s Cash Books Kellogg Brown & Root’s ‘Bring and Buy’ bookstall was launched in 2002 by Linda Ng of the Information Resource Centre with the specific aim of raising funds for the Leatherhead Night Hostel. The bookstall is run on a voluntary basis by members of the IRC and has a prime central location in KBR’s Atrium Restaurant, capturing the lunchtime crowd! Staff can either ‘Bring’ their books to the stall, or ‘Buy’ those for sale at very reasonable prices, leaving their donations in a moneybox. Books on the stall cover every possible genre, from detective fiction to romance, from the classics to travel books and cookery, and often include the latest novels almost hot off the press. Dan Brown’s ‘Angels and Demons’, ‘The Complete Novels of Jane Austen’, Val McDermid’s ‘Grave Tattoo’, and Bill Bryson’s ‘Lost Continent’ are just a few of the contributions. In fact the concept of the bookstall has proved so successful that space in which to sell them is almost running out, which is fantastic.

However, she would like a good job but realises that it is difficult for anyone to find one at present. Moreover, some employers will not even look at you if you have to give the Night Hostel as your address. Jean thinks this is unfair. “I just wish they would come and interview us here. They would find out that we are clean and tidy, and just as good as anyone else.”

Job Centre Managers Take A Shine To Our Kitchen We really want to say a huge thank you to Mandy Hurst and Mel Munroe for giving our kitchen a thorough deep clean. These gallant ladies are both managers from the local Epsom and Redhill Job Centres. This great service to us was provided as part of their Community 500 initiative.

The LNH Bookstall at KBR

The generosity of KBR staff in donating both books and money to the stall means that donations to the Night Hostel can be made at regular intervals throughout the year, and any money raised is matched by KBR, thanks to the company’s ‘charity matched funding’ scheme. That effectively doubles the bookstall contribution and is greatly appreciated, especially at Christmas.

Night Hostel

News When In Rome

Award For Hostel Chair Everyone was delighted when Myfanwy Tothill received a Mole Valley Volunteer Award this autumn for services to the community. At a ceremony at the ExxonMobil headquarters the citation was read out and the Chairman of the Mole Valley District Council, Derrick Burt, handed over the certificate.

and an accreditation process to bring to a successful conclusion. In addition, it was felt the hostel was not fit for purpose, as it still had empty beds because the women’s room was not full. This led to a discussion about single rooms and redevelopment plans. In spite of her other commitments to family and job as a supply teacher, Myfanwy took all this on board. She visited similar operations to see how they were run, and some weeks could be seen in the Leatherhead Night Hostel every day.

The story started in 2003 when the previous chair of the Night Hostel Committee, Heather Ward, resigned to become Chairman of the local council. The staff team were asked to nominate someone to replace her. Myfanwy, a committee member since 1994, got the vote as everyone felt they could work with her.

This newsletter can only reach a fraction of the local population. In order to inform a wider audience it is necessary to explore other communication avenues. What better way than to speak at a meeting? Ian Stronge, a member of the management committee, was asked to address the AGM of the Residents of Middlemead Estate, or ROME for short. The first question Ian asked those present at the Old Barn Hall, Bookham was a simple one. How many know where the Leatherhead Night Hostel is? Very few put their hands up.

“At no point has she failed to rise to the challenge,” confirms Angela Carter, Night Hostel Project Manager and author of the citation that led to the award. “Myfanwy has never said ‘No’ and always supports myself and the staff team. She inspires us with confidence, which is a great asset in your chair.”

The switch at the top came just before all the major hostel changes began. A new constitution had to be written, a major government funding scheme dealt with,

“Friends …….. lend me your ears.”

Those present then heard Ian explain where the hostel was located, and the staff support for the residents. “We call them residents because the hostel is their home,” he said. “We want them to feel comfortable with us.” He mentioned the planned refurbishment and the support workers who get people settled back into the community.

Myfanwy receiving her Mole Valley Volunteer award

How YOU can help The Night Hostel The Hostel relies on donations from Churches and Friends Please tick applicable boxes I wish to support the work of Leatherhead Night Hostel, and enclose a donation of £ I wish to become a Friend of Leatherhead Night Hostel, please send details and GADSOP form I am a Friend of Leatherhead Night Hostel, and enclose my annual subscription £ Please send me a group sponsorship form

Finally he made a plea for volunteers to help with the administration of the hostel. “We need people to come and take the pressure off our resident staff,” he concluded.

OUR MISSION STATEMENT WE WILL Provide temporary accommodation to the single homeless and help find longer term homes



Ian stressed that those who have to sleep rough are in a battle to survive. But if an organisation like the Night Hostel can provide shelter, food and company then this security gives the individual a chance to make choices about the way forward. He then gave an insight into the ways in which ordinary people find themselves homeless.

Phone No.

This artwork for this newsletter is designed and donated by RSDesignworks Telephone 01737 371108 and printed at cost by Summit Print Telephone 01306 870136

WE WILL Assist in accessing healthcare and welfare benefits WE WILL Welcome all who visit and treat our residents as individual people