Newsletter Autumn/Winter 2012

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01372 377 790 Issue 2

Milestones Since the last newsletter . . . • Bill passed training for his forklift operator’s licence

Charity number 1137054 Autumn / Winter 2012

Strong local backing for LeatherHead Start

• Jim created a CV with the Job Skills Advisor • Dick and Tony took a Maths and English Assessment and scored well, following lessons with our volunteer. • They went on to land a one-week work trial. • Steve passed his IT course and gained a City & Guilds qualification, his Security Industry Authority badge, and skills in running an allotment. • Jason completed a five week cooking-skills course, giving him a basic understanding of how to prepare a meal. • An ex-client set up a weekly art group at the hostel (See page 3) • Sean has made huge steps in breaking his drinking habit as well as giving up smoking. • Tom learned some basic computer skills with our volunteer. • Ralph learned to play the guitar. [All names have been changed.]

In this issue:

‘Working here is too good to miss’


Meet our clients


Local students give thumbs up to LeatherHead Start p4

Finding a job is vital to leaving homelessness behind. But only the homeless know how difficult it is to keep your clothes smart enough for a job interview when you’re sofa-surfing or sleeping rough. See Alan’s story on page 2 of this issue. At LeatherHead Start we recently found one solution to this problem, by making an arrangement with the Salvation Army charity shop in Leatherhead High Street. Learning Development Worker Kat Moore (pictured above) says:

“The shop has agreed to let us send clients down for specific items as and when they need them at no cost - such as smart clothes for an interview. Or one of our residents needed a swimming costume!” Therfield School’s thumbs up for LeatherHead Start – see back page

‘Working here is too good to miss’ “I’ve really enjoyed this,” says mature student Angela Hunt. She is near the end of a 70-day placement at LeatherHead Start for a social work master’s course.

From Streets to Gardens It’s hard to believe Alan Morris’s claim that, “I’d never grown a thing in my life.” Now, two or three times a week he goes to the LeatherHead Start allotment, “and I’ve been growing stuff.”

In social work all her working life, “I didn’t realise how rewarding I’d find it,” she says. “I didn’t know just how motivating it would be. Just sitting down and listening to people’s stories, I’ve felt quite honoured for them to share as much as they have with me.”

“I didn’t fully recognise what some people have had to go through before they’ve been able to walk through the door. I now recognise some of the struggles that homeless people face. I hadn’t fully appreciated that until I heard some of what they’ve had to deal with in their lives. I think they’ve shown real strength, and I’ve just been amazed by it.” Angela has learned a lot, particularly about empowering people by finding ways they can help themselves. “Not everyone is a success story, but when people move on from here, they can always ring up and get continued support. I think that’s really impressive.” Many who come to LeatherHead Start don’t know how much help is out there, or where to get it. “That gives people some sense of purpose in life.” Read a longer version of this article at

The greenhouse at 3 Church Road now bursts with Alan’s produce: “I’m over the moon with it,” he says, and brandishes a massive courgette. Alan, 54, is nobody’s ‘down-and-out’. He was an Middlesex milkman for 27 years. Single, he enjoyed foreign holidays and a passion for golf. He managed his debts until he lost his job last year and the rent on his bedsit shot beyond reach. Alan lived on the streets from October to February, surviving on bargain sandwiches. The Epsom drop-in centre gave him a sleeping bag, food and clothes, and put him in touch with Pit Stop and LeatherHead Start. He signed on and set about finding a job. One bugbear in the six weeks’ wait for a place at LeatherHead Start was keeping clothes tidy enough for interviews. Since he moved here qualifications are also less of a problem. He has done a Nescot College course in English, and a 10-week City & Guilds IT course has boosted his self confidence. The A4E employment agency has suggested Alan do security work. He passed all five of his security exams and a Securitas interview and has also passed a reference check. Alan’s now looking for a one-bed or studio flat. For now, Alan’s pleased to learn that he can keep coming to the allotment even when he leaves. He has plenty of ideas for next year’s crop. Read a longer version of this article at


Jon returns to run art classes Scene transformed for former resident Ex-client Jon Curtis returns to LeatherHead Start to lead two art classes a week. He arrived at the then Leatherhead night hostel’s temporary home in Dorking last year after 13 years of drifting. By June he had a studio flat in Dorking. “Being on the streets is like a million miles away,” he says: “99 per cent of people never think they’re going to end up there.” At 55 Jon’s CV had a 15-year hole in it. But at Dorking he resumed drawing and painting: “When I’m doing it, time goes.” He sometimes works all night. “It takes focus and concentration,” he says. Jon regularly visits london galleries and exhibitions and is well enough connected to have met, and played snooker with, David Hockney. For now he’d like to help others like himself: “If you’ve done it yourself people can’t say ‘well what do you know?’.” He’s pleased to be where he is: “I’ve got a place, and I’ve done it up. When the weather’s bad outside I’m not kipping under an archway or a bridge or under a tree, I don’t have to go through that again. I don’t know how I did it really.” Read Jon’s story in full at

Brian’s story One Friday night earlier this year, after a three cans of Diamond White cider, Brian Jenkins opened a bottle of Jack Daniels and settled down to watch a film. He remembers nothing until 7am. He came round in the road, handcuffed, with police asking about a burglary. “That was an eye-opener.” Brian, 38, is a former member of the GB trampolining team. Beginning in 1997 he auditioned thousands of athletes for the largest show in the world at the Millennium Dome. “It was an absolutely amazing project but, unfortunately, that’s when I started drinking.” Ten years later came the arrest. After a while sofasurfing among relatives in Dorking and New Malden he rang a number for the Surrey drug and alcohol line given to him while in custody at Staines police station. Shortly after, Mole Valley housing gave him the number for LeatherHead Start. Brian wasn’t sure. He had never been near a hostel until he came to LeatherHead Start in the spring: “Then I had a look at it and thought, wow! The place was really nice.” He moved in a few days later. He stopped drinking, volunteering to be breath-tested when he came in each night. The routine has saved him, he says. Now, “I see things really positively.” He’s learned to accept help when it’s offered.


LeatherHead Start Manager Angela Carter and Jon talk about his work.

He’s pleased too that LeatherHead Start will be there to support him in whatever he chooses to do next. He thinks LeatherHead Start has taught him something important: “There’s help there in every aspect if you want it, and it’s enabled me to turn my life around completely and put me back on track. And if you accept that help and don’t fight against it, then you can do anything. And they help you when you move on as well… It’s a brilliant place.” Read more about Brian at

Residents Visit Kew Gardens

In March LeatherHead Start’s residents took a trip to Kew Gardens. After a two-hour photography workshop in the morning, the clients roamed the rest of the gardens for the other half of the day. It was a fantastic day out and the sun even came out for us! The group who went (from left to right): Zubejde, Kew Gardens Workshop Trainer, Chris, Richard, Alan & Munaye. To see their pictures, visit

Local students give thumbs up to LeatherHead Start

Meals on Wheels: Bookham Churches Retiring with Our Grateful Thanks After 17 years of faithful service, providing a home-cooked meal one Sunday each month, under the management of our dear champion, Mary Railton, the Bookham church meals group will be retiring at the end of the year. Thank you so much to all the individuals on the rota who took the time and trouble to feed us on a Sunday when time is so precious and thank you for your patience in fitting in with us when we weren’t always as organised as we should be!

LeatherHead Start’s work for homeless clients would be impossible without outside help. It comes from many different places: from stores group Tesco to church groups, the Salvation Army (see front page), and other charities; we owe a long-standing debt to the American Women of Surrey (AWS), for example, and to Bookham Churches (right). Our latest backers are round the corner, at Therfield school. Each of the four Houses there has a dedicated House Charity Week and, through a connection with Myfanwy Tothill, Juniper House has been collecting donations of food and domestic goods to support LeatherHead Start. The students have been enthusiastic about bringing in something from home to donate. As a charity activity, it has also been popular with staff and parents as the focus has been away from money and more on donating something from home. The charity wasn’t suggested by the students. But through assemblies that have been run, the students became aware of what LeatherHead Start does and how it supports some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Many of the students expressed their satisfaction in knowing there was a real and immediate impact of what they had donated. Tom Ostler, head of Juniper House at Therfield, says: “I am told some items like the fresh produce were being used the same evening they were dropped off.” Now that the students have made this connection to this local charity, there is a desire to continue the link and to continue to support LeatherHead Start in the future, Tom says.

If you would like to make a donation and need a gift aid or standing order form, please see our website.


Mary, whose care for us we value so highly, will continue to be involved in the hostel work, not least in organising the St Nicholas Church donation of fruit and vegetables for Christmas week.

If anyone is interested in being involved with the hostel dinner provision, in any way, we welcome you to get in touch with us on 01372 377790.

LeatherHead Start Phone: 01372 377790 3 Church Road Leatherhead Surrey KT22 8AT For general enquiries: For Manager: Angela Carter For the Chair of the Board: