LEATHERHEAD START NEWS ISSUE 12 • SUMMER/AUTUMN 2019
Fundraising in the Sun! It was a sunny afternoon on the 16th June this year when a fantastic bunch of 15 young people from St George’s & St Giles Church in Ashtead got together to organise a garden fete to raise funds for LHS.
Come and see pumpkins and squash grown on our allotment by Peter. Saturday 12th October Dorking Christian Centre
In This Issue... Real Life Stories PAGES 02 - 03
Hellos & Goodbyes PAGE 03 - 05 Actvities Spotlight PAGE 06
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The young people came up with the ideas and ran the stalls themselves: a sweet jar tombola, a lucky dip, a great bric-abrac stall and more. They made some calligraphy craft items to sell, ran calligraphy teaching workshops and offered face painting for the children. All prices were very affordable but a generous amount was raised. A few weeks later, on 29th June, Festhumble happened – a music festival in Westhumble! The organisers also wanted to raise funds for LHS. With an eclectic mix of live music, an al fresco prosecco bar, great food (BBQ & Paella) and local stalls, Festhumble was a fun day out for all the family. They invited us to come along and sell our Out Of A Pickle (see page 06) products which were a great success!
So thank you to St George’s & St Giles Youth Group and the Festhumble organisers and the Stepping Stones pub – your efforts are so appreciated and it’s wonderful to connect with the local community.
S A Place to Call Home | LUCY' STORY
My journey with homelessness began in June 2018. After a breakdown in my family home, I began living in my car. Debt from a previous relationship had begun piling up and I relapsed badly into bulimia. The council quickly found a space for me at LeatherHead Start, and with the help of the staff I began to get my life back on track: getting a debt relief order to address my debts and attending regular therapy to help with my mental health. After four months, I was able to move into shared accommodation, where I received
regular support from the lovely Chris, my Tenant Support Worker (see page 05). In June of this year, I accepted a beautiful flat where I am finally able to find stability and finish my English degree. I am fixing it up at the moment and there’s lots to do but I’m just tackling it bit by bit and I’m so grateful that it’s mine. I’m even well enough to reach my goal of hiking some of the South West Coast Path this year (see above)! I owe a lot to LeatherHead Start and the amazing staff that helped me through one of the toughest parts of my life – and I will never forget it.
A Life Rebuilt | LEWIS'S STORY Lewis, aged 36, found himself homeless over two years ago after his relationship broke down with his partner. He went from friend to friend’s sofa and had a brief spell in a winter night shelter before he came to live at LeatherHead Start earlier this year. Whilst at LHS, he began to rebuild his life; building bridges with his family and finding his confidence again. He started helping with Out Of A Pickle (see page 06) each week in the kitchen, learning all about what makes a tasty preserve as well as basic cooking skills and food hygiene principles. Lewis has now taken the next step in his journey towards his own home and moved into supported accommodation where he has more independence but also still a little help when he needs it. He is a brick layer by trade and is hoping to get back into that line of work as he loves working with his hands and producing something he can be proud of.
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What's cooking at LHS?
nOT aLONE | WILLIAM'S STORY
Earlier this year, we received some gift funding that enabled us to try a pilot project for a year - employing a part time cook who provides meals for six days each week. Enter Rachel - who started with us in August. She has been filling the air with all sorts of lovely aromas and every day our clients and staff comment on how wonderful her food is. Rachel recently moved down
I fell on hard times, after being made redundant, and found myself sleeping rough pretty soon after. You want to think "everything's going to be ok! You'll sort it out!"
But it doesn't and you won't. Because you don't have the resources and ability that normal people do. You're homeless and alone. I rang Leatherhead Start and self-referred after I came to a point of personal desperation. It was frightening and hugely embarrassing to have to go into some random hostel and I was preparing for...I don't know what. But I was greeted with warm, open arms. The staff knew exactly what had happened and they had experience with it. Leatherhead Start offered support for everything. I had no money, no prospects, no anything...I was a wreck. But they gave me a place to stay and a place to feel safe. They gave me opportunity. They gave me back my self-worth.
from Glasgow where she was a chef in a busy, thriving restaurant. 'I was looking for a change - something a bit quieter so that I could pursue my passion for illustration as well as cooking. I initially got in touch about volunteering for LHS but when I found out about this opportunity it was just a perfect fit.' Rachel has also begun to work with our clients in the kitchen offering people an opportunity to learn how to produce healthy meals on a low budget when they move on to increased independence. Welcome Rachel!
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Hello to Leigh and Pete Having spent his career in several industries, Leigh (pictured above, left) only ever found happiness when helping others, such as his time volunteering with Epsom & Ewell Foodbank. Deciding to make a career change earlier this year was easy - finding the right role wasn’t. Then, luckily, he saw the opportunity at LHS. He joined the team in June 2019 as a Relief Worker, before starting in August of this year as a full-time Project Support Worker. "Since that first conversation with Angela, then meeting the team here, I haven’t looked back." he says. "In my short time here, I feel that I have already learnt so much and know that this will continue throughout my time with Leatherhead Start. "The job can be demanding, it can be very tiring with the shifts, but most of all it is highly rewarding. No day is the same, as no client is the same, and that is one of the many things I truly love about my role here at the hostel."
Pete (pictured above, right) has joined our staff team as a Tenant Support Worker. His interest in helping those struggling with homelessness really began to take shape whilst he was living in Northern California in the early 2000’s. "This beautiful part of the world is marked by giant redwood forests, an ongoing legacy of the counter-cultural movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, but also a fairly large and visible homeless population. At that point I was pretty naive but had good intentions and alongside Kat (who is now my wife and colleague), I began to spend time with those sleeping rough and handing out food, clothing, and sleeping bags" says Pete. After getting married and moving back to the UK Pete and Kat wanted to continue to support those struggling with these issues and so began volunteering in a local drop-in centre. This eventually led to Kat becoming a full time LHS staff member and Pete picking up the occasional relief shift. "Over the years I have witnessed first-hand the crucial work that LHS does and feel privileged to be a part of it. It is certainly a steep learning curve but one that I am looking forward to engaging with."
In our last issue, we said hello to Molly who joined us almost two years ago. Now we are saying goodbye. Not our fault! We miss her calm and happy disposition but we congratulate her on achieving her goal of being selected for training with Surrey Police and we wish her great success with her new career as a police officer.
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Farewell Dear Chris CHRIS THORPE REMEMBERS... After several attempts I picked up the phone to dial the hostel’s number and ask whether I could be of use as a volunteer. I had just overcome a difficult period in my life but thought maybe those negative experiences could be used rather than swept under the carpet. The response to my tentative enquiry was warm and positive, so I started. At that time the Hostel had dormitories with 4 people to a room. We relied totally on charitable giving and our ethos was to listen, feed, clothe and make welcome those who possibly hadn’t spoken to anyone for days. It was a humbling experience which has given me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back over the years I see a multi-coloured ribbon of dear people stretching away – everyone a precious being needing help – a bite to eat, a listening ear and a warm bed along with help and encouragement to hope and it’s been my blessing to walk their path a little way, beside them.
"I look back over the years and see in my mind’s eye a multicoloured ribbon of dear people stretching away – each with problems, all homeless but everyone a precious being needing help"
The Hostel has changed from basic to state-of-the-art facilities but our vision remains constant: to give comfort to a fellow human being who’s plumbed the depths and had no spiritual, emotional or material resources to climb out alone and without help. So, after more than 25years, it’s time for me to leave. Although it will be a wrench, I know that when I feel a bit low and not so useful anymore I can lift the lid on the treasure chest stored in my memory, and the jewels of experiences I have gleaned from those without a voice and nothing in their pockets or stomachs will sparkle brightly and serve to enrich my retirement.
Angela Carter, Manager, says “Chris was first our Accommodation Worker and in later years our Support Worker for those who had moved on to independent living. She has invested love and skill in her work with the clients and they have reaped the benefit in life changing results. She is unique and we give her our deepest thanks for years of unconditional service.”
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PAGE 11 | CRUZ FAMILY
Out Of A Pickle Sales
We continue with our regular activities, including: Out of A Pickle cooking sessions (and sales - see right) on Mondays, Life Skills sessions on Tuesdays, Art Group on Wednesdays and Maths coaching on Thursdays. We say goodbye with sincere thanks to our allotment Manager, Rhona, who has been a star. The allotment has gone to bed for winter but will be waking with new vigor in the Spring.
16th November 11am-3pm FETCHAM VILLAGE HALL 22nd November 12-5:30pm REED' S SCHOOL, OXSHOTT
PAGE 1 | TOP 10 FAMILY HOTELS
30th November 10am-3pm ST JOHN' S SCHOOL, LEATHERHEAD 6th December 4-6pm THE HIVE IN THE CHILDREN' S CENTRE, APERDELE RD, L' HEAD 7th December 11am-3pm CITY OF LONDON FREEMAN SCHOOL, ASHTEAD 21st December 9am-2pm RAWLINGS & KENSITT, BOOKHAM (TBC)
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