Night Hostel News Leatherhead
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
LENGTHS AT 70
In January, Janet Baker, who keeps our Night Hostel garden in good shape, did a sponsored swim on our behalf. Having completed 70 lengths, on the Saturday after her 70th birthday, she told us she had great support from her family.
PLACES OF CHANGE: Funding for the Future
THAT CHANGE LIVES, NOT JUST PLACES TO STAY”
In November 2007 the government’s Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) announced the Places of Change programme (PCP). The aim is to encourage homelessness services, particularly hostels like ours, to focus on moving service users forward to a fuller life. PCP aims to improve access to meaningful occupation through training and employment opportunities, and to stimulate hostels to work with other services to become centres of excellence and choice, which positively change lives.
Janet, kneeling left of centre, certainly deserved the celebrations as her effort raised just over £700 for the Night Hostel. As well as thanking her, we would like to acknowledge the generosity of her friends.
Inside this Issue: Art competition Resettlement work Sara’s stints The two Ronnies Double decoration Rotary Club help Round Table support Canine cash
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Since January 2005 CLG has invested over £90 million in improving the quality of hostel accommodation and encouraging homelessness services to provide the best opportunities for their clients, opportunities that will help people to move forward into work and a settled home.
There has been a 30% increase in clients moving on successfully into training, further education, employment, or independent living as a result of the new services made available - with one hostel in Leicester reporting 100% improvement. Now, PCP is to invest a further £70 million in 100 more hostels and day centres across the country. Training facilities will help some of the most vulnerable people in society move on to independence. Hostels will transform their environments and services, so that service users can gain the skills and confidence to face their future with optimism. As our many supporters know, for the past two years we have been exploring prospects for improving and developing the Leatherhead Night Hostel building. Our residents share crowded rooms, and our kitchens and bathrooms are dilapidated. Simply stated, our building is no longer fit for purpose.
The previous With vision and Hostels Capital financial backing Improvement from the Places of Programme (HCIP) Change programme, enabled providers and working in The Night Hostel building needs improving to redevelop partnership with buildings using Mole Valley District innovative design and, at the same time, Council (our landlord) and Homeless improve employment, health, personal Link (the national organisation for development and housing outcomes for frontline homelessness agencies in service users. HCIP achieved dramatic England) we can at last fulfil our vision of results. The services that won their better provision for the people we serve, investment bids were able to transform adding value to lives where so much has their hostels. No longer were they just a been lost. place for the night, but a place back into the world of work. We will keep you up to date with developments in our next newsletter.
Our art competition attract There were pictures everywhere. On the walls, tables, chairs and even the carpet. Such was the success of last year’s art competition to celebrate 30 years of the Night Hostel. Over 160 entries flooded in from local school children. This gave our two judges, Sue and Stuart Stanley of the Art House Gallery, a mammoth task. Stuart, a professional artist who designed sets at the theatre in Leatherhead when it was The Thorndike, explained what they were looking for in the finished work. “First of all it has to have artistic quality and follow the theme. Then we are assessing how much effort went into the piece. Finally it is the composition that is important. But at the same time we are drawn to any that are quirky, or fun to look at.” Our prize sponsors, Exxon and KBR, would have been impressed by the thorough way our judges examined the contributions, and debated who should get the coveted awards and cheques. A few that fell just outside the top places were classed as highly commended, and a little extra money was found to reward this group.
Elliott Sw epson
Sue and Stuart Stanley get down to the task of judging the amazing collection of paintings
Some of our worthy winners
Resettlement work puts brake on revolving door The Hostel’s resettlement work continues to develop. When people leave the hostel to move into independent housing it may no longer be the end of our involvement with them. Our aim is to address the ‘revolving door syndrome’ whereby, in the past, some of our residents who were found suitable accommodation became unable to cope and would return to homelessness through lack of confidence, or skills to manage independent living and the responsibilities it carries. With the co-operation of our clients, we now work hard to ensure that rent, bills and budgeting are addressed at the start of a tenancy. We make regular home visits, or arrange meetings at the hostel, with Chris Thorpe, our housing and welfare worker, for support and advocacy. The agenda is anything at all that is causing anxiety, whether it is liaising with authorities, paying bills, material needs, shopping, banking or medical issues. One gentleman, who finds the intricacies of day-to-day form filling quite daunting, often comes into the hostel with yet another piece of paper to be sorted and solved. He quite openly declares that without the Night Hostel’s help he would be on the streets again. This is a man who lived with his parents all his adult life
and on their deaths was totally unequipped to deal with everyday living. He had never held a tenancy, cooked a meal, washed his clothes, paid the council tax, read a meter or purchased a TV licence. With our help all these tasks are being addressed. He is slowly becoming a more confident adult. So much so, that he has consented to a medical operation which he desperately needs. Hitherto, this would have been something so feared that he would simply have ignored what could become a potentially life-threatening ailment. Another gentleman is somewhat of a recluse, and we are his only visitors. His isolation is so extreme that when asked if he derived any benefit from our visits he said he did indeed. In fact they were the highlight of his fortnight. This encouragement prompted the offer of a weekly slot, whereupon, quick as a flash, he replied, “No thanks, once a fortnight is quite enough!” Yet another of our people is going through a period of depression, and he values our visits. It is a means of unburdening, and chatting to someone whom he sees somewhere between family, friend and social worker. There are, of course, others whom we visit and support. Each one has his or her worries and burdens, which may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things. But, with each small successful step we are achieving our aim, which is to help someone feel comfortable and confident, perhaps for the very first time, in their own home.
ts many entries
Sara’s satisfying stints hel
Rac uergel Jessie B Harreitt
A tale of the two Ronnies “Without the Night Hostel I would be dead by now.” These are stark words, and a little dramatic you might think. However, they were spoken by someone who had slept out in Nonsuch Park in winter, spent Christmas in a London Crisis shelter and existed for many weeks hungry, tired and dirty on the streets of Epsom. How did Ron get in this state? He wasn’t an alcoholic, and he didn’t do drugs, but he did get into serious debt. “It was my own fault,” he admits. “Because I wasn’t paying the rent on my flat the council were Posed by model going to evict me.” Ron decided to go before he was thrown out. So he fled his home, leaving everything behind. After being shunned by other visitors to a local community centre, and evicted from Epsom library, Ron found himself in the Baptist Church. “It was a miracle that someone there knew of the Night Hostel. They brought me to Leatherhead and I was very lucky there was a free bed. Some of the residents caused problems,” he remembers. “But I stuck it out and behaved myself.” Daytimes were difficult as it wasn’t possible to remain in the hostel, but Pitstop had just opened four days a week. Although it was pretty basic at that time, Ron was grateful because it was somewhere to go for company and food. While at the Night Hostel Ron had to begin rebuilding his life. For a start he had no identity as all his personal belongings had been abandoned at his previous flat, and then emptied out by the council. A copy birth certificate was needed from Lancashire before a post office or bank would even cash a Giro cheque. It took three months for everything to be sorted and a flat found in a sheltered accommodation complex at Ashtead. Here all bills are paid centrally and a deduction made from each residents income by direct debit. However, Ron felt it was difficult leaving the security of the Night Hostel because, as he puts it, “You have to shop for yourself and look after your own finances.” It was at that point the ‘new’ Ron emerged. He met a retired doctor, and this Quaker lady advised on the kind of activities to rewardingly fill his days. He is still in contact with her and helps by cleaning her house each week. For a while he visited Down View prison and listened to the inmates’ stories. Many were in for drug smuggling from the West Indies. Having been arrested at the airport, and brought to jail in a closed vehicle, they were not even sure of where they were. Ron used to tell them all about Surrey and their surroundings. More recently he has joined Mole Valley Speakers, an organisation that encourages public speaking, and he is Sergeant at Arms and timekeeper for the 50-strong group. They meet at the Peace Memorial Hall and members vote for the best speech. Ron has won several certificates in this way. Other interests followed after courses on bird watching, wild flowers and Egyptian history. Now he has joined the WEA and goes to talks on a wide variety of subjects. “I am also thinking of doing some travelling, now that I have my bus pass,” says Ron. However, his main message is that we need to make more people aware of a Night Hostel in Leatherhead. “So that folks can help people when they find anyone homeless.”
Having helped out at the Kaleidoscope Project in Kingston, dispensing methadone, for the last nine years, Sara Kane was very disappointed when new regulations made it impossible for volunteers to be employed in clinical areas. As she didn’t want to stop working with vulnerable people, she was thrilled when she found the Night Hostel could use another relief worker. Sarah admits to having enjoyed every moment of her first spell of duties at the hostel. “I was warned that some nights would be very quiet and I might be bored,” she said. “But this hasn’t been the case as there’s always something to do. If it’s not the laundry, or tidying and restocking food and other store cupboards, it’s serving and clearing up after the evening meal.” One of her favourite activities is chatting to clients and learning of their concerns. Sometimes it is just a case of being present at residents’ conversations with the staff member she is assisting. At other times she has been lucky enough to chat to individual residents on her own, and adds, “I find people’s stories endlessly fascinating, as well as sobering and humbling. As my stints at the hostel are often several weeks apart, one of my first priorities, once my foot is through the door, is to find out how everyone’s getting on, who’s moved on, and who the new arrivals are.” What has made the experience particularly enjoyable for Sarah has been working with such terrific people. “They never seem too busy to answer my endless questions about the hostel’s services and processes, from receiving and assessing referrals to resettlement. I hope that I shall be able to continue to work for the hostel for many years to come.”
I know that there are many individuals, small prayer groups and churches that support us, and our residents, with their prayers and I should like to thank you all. Prayer isn’t visible or quantifiable in the way that material donations are but I believe it to be one of the greatest gifts we receive from those who support the work of the hostel and the individuals who need us. Angela Carter.
News Round Table support
A double decoration The resident’s communal area, and both staff bedrooms, are looking clean and fresh after a visit from two teams of hard working decorators who gave up their time to paint and make-over these areas of the hostel. Employees from Exxon Mobil appeared, as a part of their ‘Day of Caring’ in our community. This businesslike and enthusiastic team turned up with all the necessary materials and painted one of the two staff bedrooms, the resident’s TV lounge and dining room, and the long corridor leading to them, all in one day. They completed the makeover with new pictures and lampshades, and we were so pleased with the result. This meant that the second staff bedroom looked even sadder, neglected and in need of repair by the time Exxon had finished. That was when we approached Julia Brand of the Besom team, from St George’s Church in Ashtead, for some help. They responded with real commitment and sent a youth group to do all the preparation work and a house group to do the painting, once again supplying the material themselves. Both bedrooms are now much pleasanter places to collapse into as staff members go off duty at 11pm until 8am the following morning, when they are up to support the residents for another day.
Rotary Club helps fund refurbishment Last September David Slater, the outgoing president of Leatherhead Rotary Club presented the Night Hostel with a cheque for £4,840. He had taken particular trouble to make an application for an additional grant from a district Rotary fund to boost the final figure.
This year, to our great delight, came a cheque from Rob Field, seen on the left, current Chairman of Leatherhead Round Table. He visited the hostel with Vice Chairman, Rob Giles to hand the £1,000 donation to manager, Angela Carter. “It is very rewarding for us to see how this money can support local needs,” said Rob Field. Angela confirmed this contribution will make a big difference!. “It is very important to us and we intend to use it to upgrade our computers. They are central to our work because of the increasing amount of administrative paperwork required to meet current standards of client care and support.”
Committee member, Ian Stronge, told Rotary Club members about the work of the hostel, and thanked them for their hard work in raising these funds The money will be spent on a complete refurbishment of the hostel bedrooms, with enough left over to buy a dishwasher for the resident’s kitchen, a refrigerator and stair carpet.
Dorking Homelessness Event Freddie Jenkins, Committee member and long time supporter of the Night Hostel, remembers the Dorking Event starting up at least ten years ago. “There was an ecumenical Homelessness Committee in Dorking,” she recalls. “The leading lights were Brian Carr, a local solicitor, and Jill Quantrill, a member of St Martin’s Church.” As part of the initiative of the Guildford Diocese, the last weekend in January was designated ‘Homelessness Weekend’. The young people from St Martin’s demonstrated their support for the homeless by sleeping rough themselves. “Probably quite a fun thing for them,” said Freddie. On the Saturday morning there would be publicity about the work of the Night Hostel
in the entrance to the Christian Centre. When Graham Peddie started Pitstop this too was publicised. Dorking residents were encouraged to bring suitable blankets and clothing for hostel users and Pitstop clients. There was also a coffee morning, and various stalls helping to raise money. However, two years ago the organisers of the event felt the time had come to hand over the running to the Night Hostel Committee. This year, in spite of not being able to use the main hall, stalls selling books, cakes and toiletries, together with the refreshments and collecting boxes, made £372. “Although less than usual, we were able to keep the issue of homelessness before the minds of the people of Dorking,” concluded Freddie.
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 were delighted to hear from Sophie Kelting who, with her friend, Caroline Donahue, raised £65 for the hostel on a sponsored dog walk with Frankie.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT WE WILL Provide temporary accommodation to the single homeless and help find longer term homes WE WILL Assist in accessing healthcare and welfare benefits WE WILL Welcome all who visit and treat our residents as individual people