NEWS Issue 10 • Autumn/Winter 2017
Since the last Newsletter... • 11 clients moved on to their own tenancy • 4 clients turned their lives around by stopping drinking • Melissa started full time work with special needs children • Helen paid housing arrears consistently for over 6 months and regained the chance of her own tenancy • Ben and Lisa leased their own allotments • Frank became seizure-free after a long period of frequent fits • Stephanie embarked on her gender reassignment programme [Names have been changed.]
Also in this issue... • Client stories: meet Amir, an Iranian refugee and a mother and son who faced homlessness together - Pg 2 • Activities spotlight: see what else we’ve been up to - Pg 3 • LHS Staff update - there are lots of changes since our last newsletter! - Pg 4 • Out Of A Pickle products are flying off the stalls - pg 5 • pg 6
Leatherhead Start Goes Ape! In Augest, we got to go swinging in the trees at Go Ape in Chessington. A fun time was had by all and fears were faced and conquered! This trip and many others over the last 5 years have been organised by our volunteer,
Paul Fraser. Paul also generously covers the cost of these outings through his business, Aligned For Life, a chiropractic company based in Bridge Street in Leatherhead. website: www.alignedforlife.co.uk
Bad things happen to lovely people
Evelyn and her son Tom spent most of last winter sleeping in local parks. She and her husband had left Scotland 25 years ago to bring up a family in the Surrey countryside. Until her husband died four years ago, Evelyn had had steady, well-paid work as care manager . She and Tom, now 25, moved back to Scotland, leaving her daughter and granddaughter in the Surrey area. Evelyn missed them, so last year she and Tom, now 25, found a house in Surrey where all four could be together. Even as they travelled south they learned that, for reasons they still don’t understand, the house was no longer available. “From then on,” says Evelyn, “all our plans went wrong.”
Homeless and far from home Amir, a 54-year-old Iranian refugee, doesn’t want to give his real name. He is a Christian from a country in which ethnic Persians are assumed to be Muslim. Christians from a Muslim background make up the largest group of Christians in Iran, even though it is illegal there to carry out any Christian activities in Farsi, the language of the Muslim majority. A man who leaves Islam can be sentenced to death and a woman to life imprisonment, though the death sentence hasn’t been carried out for over 20 years for such ‘crimes’.
For a while they slept on the floor of a friend who’d agreed to store their belongings: “We didn’t think we would be there for long,” says Tom. But they could find nowhere for the four to live at a reasonable rent. When he and Evelyn ran out of money, they took to a tent. The only break was when the letting rules allowed the whole family to squeeze into a friend’s flat over Christmas. But Evelyn and Tom made good friends among the residents in Nonsuch Park: “We met nice people there,” says Tom. One woman asked them if they wanted a sandwich then inisted they accept four bags of supplies. When they left, says Evelyn, the woman asked them to keep in touch: “She even brought us here,” says Evelyn.
Amir still loves the trade he was in in Iran, book printing and binding, but has been unable to follow it here. “It was always busy, you never had time to think about problems, and at night you were so tired you slept like a baby.” So he took cleaning and labouring jobs — “anything to get money” — until strokes made him unable to work.
East Surrey Outreach (Esos) put them in touch with LeatherHead Start. At first, LHS only had room for Evelyn, who arrived here in mid-August. Tom camped for another two weeks until he too had a place. “It’s been really good here,” says Evelyn. She’s full of prase for the staff’s readiness to help. Tom welcomes the regular meals.
He has built up no savings since he arrived here 14 years ago: he sent much of what little money he earned to his family in Iran. He talks to his mother on the phone regularly but has lost contact with his wife and two sons, 20 and 18 years old. In a recent conversation his mother told him that, without telling him, his wife had divorced him.
The experience has changed him: “Before all this I had no faith in people,” he says. “I do now.” Says Evelyn, “It makes you realise there’s kind people around, people who understand people who don’t have somewhere to go.”
Until earlier this year he lived in a caravan behind the Plough at Leigh. “It was damp, and dark,” he says, “like a prison”: “There was never enough quiet,” he says. “Someone was always partying. I didn’t feel safe there.”
It’s too early for them to make plans. For the moment they’re living on benefit, but Tom wants work either as an electrician or as a cook if he can fund the retraining. Evelyn, in poor health, just wants to recover.
He was forgetting to eat, becoming more and more ill, and suffering knee pains. Two months ago St Bartholemew’s church, opposite the pub, told him about homeless charities and he was given support by the church until he moved to LHS. “Brilliant,” is how he sums up his experience here. The staff are very helpful and the other residents are “very quiet and very nice”. Everyone asks him if he needs anything. His prospects for moving on now look good as he will go on to longer term supported housing in Dorking whilst waiting on the Housing Register to eventually bid for his own flat with a local housing trust. He is happy that his sons have a good future because the family is looking after them. Both have qualified for good jobs, “but I have no hope of seeing them again”.
Above: Tom and Evelyn have enjoyed being part of the Out Of A Pickle team! (see page 5)
Learning and Opportunities
We have been producing some lovely artwork in an art group led by our volunteer Lesley.
Clients have been preparing lovely Sunday roasts - building skills and keeping us fed at the same time!
Fun times down on the allotment! One of our clients, Des (pictured left) loved it so much he even decided to get his
We have been running Life Skill sessions covering topics such as managing stress, goal setting, communication and mindfulness.
It could be you or me
so have a depressive or other mental illness either caused by or leading to their loss of a home and their inability to cope. “They’re good people,” he says.
Kat and Trevor joined what’s now LeatherHead Start within days of each other, just as the service returned to Leatherhead from it’s temporary home in Dorking. As luck would have it, they’re leaving together too. Kat describes the last six years as “eye opening” and “totally challenging”: “It’s been a privilege and an honour to help people when they are facing something that makes them as vulnerable as homelessness”. She’s leaving only because her mother in the Florida Keys suffered a serious cycling injury and needed care. At the time of writing, mum was making a full recovery — but sitting in the path of Hurrican Irma! Trevor, a British Airways IT specialist who moved to Leatherhead from Newcastle 10 years ago, is allegedly ‘retiring’, though, like others involved with LHS, he’ll be around to provide
Above: Trevor with his wife, Judy, enjoying his retirement! help when needed. The service would flounder without such people. “Our clients come from all walks of life,” says Kat: “Nobody is that far away from homelessness, whether it’s the loss of a job or something else that means you’re not able to pay the rent or the mortgage. And a lot of our clients don’t have friends or family around them to turn to when things get rough.”
Priyanka has moved up to Senior Project Support Worker. She joined LeatherHead Start in 2013 (see Newsletter 3, summer 2013). “I’ll be supervising the team of Project Support Workers,” she says. That means giving up her role as a key-worker with individual clients to take on day to day management of the office,
Emma and Simon are the latest to join LeatherHead Start as Project Support Workers. Emma, 26, was formerly an outreach worker with the National Autistic Society. She worked with homeless charities at university and wanted to return to that path. She joined LHS in October 2016. Simon, 33, was in car insurance until a promotion took him away from the work he most enjoyed - solving customers’ problems. His parents were both in the caring professions, so when someone who used to work here told him about LHS he took an immediate interest. He started last February. “It’s a very supportive team,” says Emma. Simon agrees: “I can’t speak highly enough about the management here and the way things are run. There’s great camaraderie among the staff.” He adds: “I had no idea a place like this existed. There’s clearly a need for
Below: Kat with her husband Pete
Trevor believes this is often, not always, because residents come from chaotic, abusive, or unsupportive backgrounds,
...and moving in!
“There’s no silver bullet to solve homelessness,” says Kat, “but we have the opportunity to make a massive difference to the individuals who come to LHS.” Meanwhile, she’s keen to thank the churches, volunteers and other agencies who offer practical and financial help: “It’s so appreciated – we genuinely couldn’t run without their support,” she says.
the hostel activities and the client process. Pri, who has just finished a Masters degree in counselling and psychotherapy, is moving towards a career as an independent therapist and alongside the NHS. “I have found my new role both challenging and rewarding and look forward to developing it further,” she says.
it. People have a preconceived idea of what a homeless person is like. But working here has made me realise that this can happen to anyone.” They’re both impressed by the support LHS gets from Mole Valley Council, the Outreach Service (eSOS), the Leisure Centre and the wider community, including many churches. There’s a network of volunteers giving up their time to support LHS’s clients and local trusts like the Bantham Charitable Trust find money for training and reeducation which is invaluable. Emma praises local business initiatives. “Sainsbury’s puts a box out at the front of the store with our name on it, and people bring in food, toiletries and cleaning products.” Other help comes from local cafes and even Bocketts’ Farm. The Leatherhead Leisure Centre gives the hostel two free memberships a year. Simon’s impressed with the training LHS provides, particularly for immediate pressing problems like tenancy issues, or managing emotions.
Simon and Emma in the LHS office Emma mentions the job club, the maths teaching, art workshop, life skills workshops and the skills people acquire to support the service’s Out Of A Pickle business [see page 5]. Simon’s summary is, “It’s definitely an environment I would like to continue working in.” His experience here has persuaded him he’d like to train as a counsellor. Welcome aboard you two!
Pickles pick up — don’t miss the boat! Despite the many challenges that beset us in 2017 we had some amazing new experiences and achievements in our pickle adventure!
The team at Ashtead Village Day with the High Sherrif of Surrey (above) & at Rawlings & Kensett in Bookham (below)
through to 6 pm. Everyone was elated and exhausted at the end. A whopping 130 jars sold.
We sold LHS’s pickles at a lot of openair events. Ripley Farmers’ Market was our first outdoor venture with our new marquee, generously donated by Pickle volunteer David Sansom. From an 8 am start on a damp grey day, the team got the gazebo up in no time at all. And the selling went so fantastically, we sold out.
In August the team were asked if they would like to set up a stall outside Bookham butchers Rawlings and Kensett. We sold 79 jars, so we owe a special thank you to Rawlings and Kensett and Keith Weston for suggesting Pickle should set up this stall outside their shop on a busy bank holiday Saturday, it was great fun and the customers were amazing.
Next event was Ashtead Village day (pictured left). Another cracking day. Our team of six worked from 10.30
Now for the Christmas stalls – see details below. They are going fast so don’t miss out!
How Out Of A Pickle helped us...
Paul & Donna (pictured right) tell of their experience with OOAP. When we moved into LHS we had been through a tough time and moving in was very daunting. Almost immediately, we got involved with Out Of A Pickle. Neither of us was working so we were glad to be kept busy with something meaningful. We learned loads of skills in areas such as IT, maths, people and communication and gained valuable insight into running a small business. We were also able to pass on our skills to others and make a real contribution to the project. I (Donna) had IT A-Level so was able to help more with admin, show others how to do things and made
our processes simpler. Paul, who used to be a chef, was able to pass on some cooking knowledge and experience and found his passion for cooking again.
The team, including Paul and Donna (above, right to left) at our award winning stall at Ripley Farmer’s Market. Below: the team in the kitchen where the magic happens!
Overall, being part of Out of A Pickle really helped us improve things in our life and get back on track. It restored our confidence and being part of creating such a great product gave us a much needed sense of achievement. We have also met lots of new people – friends for life. We are now in our own flat, both have jobs and are so thankful for everyone who has helped support us in OOAP and LHS.
Out Of A Pickle Sale Prices, Dates and Locations *28th October 11am-4pm - St Mary & St Nicholas Church, Leatherhead
*19th November 10am-4pm - Effingham Golf Club
*11th November 10am-2pm - Leatherhead Theatre
*25th November 4-7pm - Ashtead & Leatherhead Squash Club
*17th November 12-5:30pm - Reed’s School, Cobham
*2nd December 11-2pm - City of London Freeman’s
*17th November 7-10pm - Howard of Effingham School
*9th December 9am-2pm - Ripley Farmer’s Market
*18th November 12-2pm - Fetcham Village Hall
*Check www.outofapickle.com for more details!
1 Jar...£3.75 2 Jars...£7 3 Jars...£10 Gift Set...£12 5
Government measure leaves unanswered questions
Rough sleeping has risen by 134 per cent since 2010 across most regions of the country. The Government had to act, and it has passed an Act which places a new duty on local authorities to help prevent and relieve homelessness regardless of ‘priority need’. ‘Priority need’ is the term used to describe a case where someone either has children or is so ill or vulnerable that the local council has a duty to house them right away. Most single homeless people do not meet this level of need, therefore any measures that extend the advice and assistance available to them is welcome. The government has provided £61 million to local authorities to help meet the costs of implementing the act. This funding is likely to start in 2018 but what it will mean for projects like LeatherHead Start working with single homeless people is difficult to predict or assess at this point. LeatherHead Start will be working with Mole Valley District Council to learn about the provisions of the Act and derive the best results for our homeless clients. However, the shortage of accommodation available is not directly addressed by the legislation and therefore remains the huge elephant in the room. So we are hopeful but sceptical about whether it will make a difference to the numbers sleeping rough in our neighbourhoods.
How will the Surrey funding cuts affect LeatherHead Start? As we all know, Surrey County Council (SCC) is facing enormous financial pressures. It needs to make savings across the board of around £150 million this year and this includes us.
to help shape any proposed changes that will provide the savings and various options have been discussed. We take comfort from the acceptance that accommodation based services like ours need protecting and have heard just as this newsletter goes to press that the reduction in funding will be £13,000 next financial year - a 10% rather than a 20% cut.
Surrey supports socially excluded groups including homeless people through its Adult Social Care budget. In our case they do this by commissioning us to provide housing-related support to the clients who This is good news; we will now start to look are referred here. This financial support is closely at value for money in our spending funding 70 per cent of our staffing costs and and also look to the Friends and Church this could potentially be cut by 20 per cent. communities who have supported us so Alongside other supported housing providers well in the past for any extra contribution in Surrey, we have been working with they might possibly make to help us our SCC commissioners off-set the impact of this cut in 2018.
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