TIME FOR TRANSITION On 28th May, we launched a ‘transition’ service in Watford, thanks to three-year funding from the government’s Homelessness Transition Fund. This service aims to help people who are new to homelessness, as opposed to entrenched rough sleepers. It ties in with a national concept called ‘No Second Night Out’, whereby resources are focussed on targeting first-time homeless people and preventing them from the detrimental effects Photo credit - Simon Jacobs caused by homelessness, such as alcoholism, substance misuse and mental and physical health issues. With the funding we have received we have been able to achieve the following: (1) we now have six more beds available, which increases our total bed spaces to 56 across the Trust; (2) we have a new team of staff dedicated to working with those accessing this service; (3) we have launched Watford’s first 24/7 emergency advice line for those at risk of rough sleeping; (4) we have employed a new Housing and Strategy Director, Sara Crean-Muir. This enables us to focus on improving our accommodation services to homeless people throughout the Trust, whilst enabling us to work more closely with local authorities.
Watford has a new superhero! Help him to help us this Harvest.
Forty young people braved the wet weather to raise money for us.
‘Sleeping Bags’ - image by flickr user Snap Man, used here under a Creative Commons Licence
IN THE FIRST MONTH OF OPERATION 23 first-time homeless people prevented from sleeping on the streets.
32 people benefited from the 24/7 advice line.
78% of the people we helped moved-on positively.
AWESOME TEAM WORK Hear the latest from our Street Outreach Team.
Drawing by flickr user Te Dibujamos, used here under a Creative Commons Licence
changing for me. I worked on a farm doing lots of labouring jobs and I made wicker furniture – I loved that part of my work. But, eventually I had to return to England where I really struggled to find stable housing and employment. I didn’t have anyone to really help me, so I ended up living on the streets. I wasn’t born into a close family and I’ve never had much money. When you don’t have those things you can easily find yourself homeless. After about two and a half months of moving around from doorways to parks I heard about Watford New Hope Trust and they took me in at the Night Shelter. I picked myself up and found a flat to move into. I had a few really good years after this, where I met someone special and we had two daughters. But our relationship broke down so, for the sake of our kids, I thought it best to move out and leave my partner with everything. Again, I found myself with nowhere to live but the streets. This time around I was given an opportunity to move to New Hope House, where I got loads of really good help and support. It was great to be around people who had experienced similar situations to me and who didn’t judge me or threaten me.
Sixteen years ago, when I was 27, I was sleeping on the streets of Watford. Today I’m staying in a New Hope Trust house. There is so much to say about where I have come from. Here is a bit of my story… I grew up in Harrow, where I was one of seven children. I didn’t have an easy childhood. My parents separated when I was young and, for various reasons, I ended up in care homes. I lived in a lot of different places, but when I was a teenager I was given an opportunity to live with a relative in Spain. This was life
I now live in one of the Trust’s longer-term houses, where I have really enjoyed the volunteer opportunities – it’s nice to feel like I’m of use to people. Last Harvest I was able to volunteer for almost three months. I sorted, collected and distributed food and I was given an award at the end. I was the ‘Most Committed’ Harvest worker and this made me feel really happy. Some people just give you a handshake for helping out, but I got a certificate which I can show to people. The Trust has put me on the right tracks and my life has a sense of hope and purpose once more.
Each year local schools, churches, synagogues and other community groups donate food and toiletries to Watford New Hope Trust as part of their Harvest festivals. These generous donations enable us to feed hundreds of homeless and vulnerable people in Watford. Thank you so much if you give to us in this way. However, we are also in need of financial donations so that we can buy fresh food throughout the year, particularly for the Haven Day Centre where we feed over 60 people each day.
£2.50 provides enough milk for one day at the Haven Day Centre.
£2 will provide the cheese we need to make twenty cheese sandwiches.
£1 will enable us to buy ham to make twenty ham sandwiches. We’re so grateful both for your donations of dried goods and your financial support enabling us to buy fresh food and milk. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.wnht.org, or send a cheque to Watford New Hope Trust.
WATCH OUR HARVEST 2012 FILM! FEATURING SOUP-ER TOM!
Visit www.wnht.org/harvest to have a look!
FINANCE UPDATE In previous newsletters we have reported a gloomy outlook regarding our financial situation. Thankfully, we have a slightly more positive message to share in this newsletter. Our two Supporting People contracts with Hertfordshire County Council – which enable us to provide accommodation and support services to hundreds of people each year and account for one third of our income (c.£600,000) – were due to end on 31st March 2013, with no known replacement. However, we have been offered a grace period of one year, until March 2014. This is such welcome news as it gives us a little more time to identify alternative sources of income. For a more detailed picture of our financial situation please take a look at our latest Annual Report on the Charity Commission’s website. Alternatively, a summary version can be found in our 2012 Annual Review, which is available from our website and our head office.
FURNITURE SHOP CLOSURE It is with real sadness that we announce the recent closure of our Furniture Recycling Scheme. This scheme has been helping homeless and vulnerably-housed people in Watford for 12 years and we can share many stories of transformed lives as a result of this scheme. However, in recent years it has become very clear that this scheme cannot operate as a viable social enterprise in its current location. Furniture is often large and the shop was too small to store, restore and sell furniture, meaning that the scheme has consistently cost us more than it has generated. In the current economic climate we cannot afford to operate such a scheme, regardless of how many people it is helping. We are extremely grateful to those who have supported this service over the years, through donations of furniture, tools, financial gifts and through purchasing items from the shop. We are hopeful that we will be able to launch a similar scheme in the future, but it is dependent upon us finding a larger and more suitable location. All who were accessing the Furniture Recycling Scheme at its time of closure are being supported and a few have accepted placements at our Market Gardening Scheme which, conversely, is going from strength to strength.
Do you know of any premises near you that may make a good shop for the Trust? We are looking for sites with high visibility and a good passing trade. These sites need to have parking and a drop-off space. We are also on the lookout for a warehouse for storage. If you are able to offer any help or suggestions, please contact Mike Hewitt, Retail Development Manager, on 01923 210 680 or email@example.com.
Our outreach work is at the sharp end of what we do at Watford New Hope Trust. The team, based at the Haven Day Centre, go out to the streets to support rough sleepers and provide immediate support to meet the most pressing needs. They also provide advice sessions at the Day Centre to help service users access accommodation, medical help and benefit services in Watford and elsewhere. At the beginning of May, the number of people sleeping rough (that we knew of) was 31. It is frightening that there were so many in our community without accommodation. The reason, in part, for this high number was due to job loss. People who are unemployed and unable to find alternative sources of income are typically at risk of homelessness because, without savings, friends or family to turn to for help, it is not possible to pay your bills. In addition, we saw some of the most vulnerable become homeless due to changes to the benefit system. From May, the Outreach Team worked hard in partnership with statutory organisations and our new Transition Service to reduce the number sleeping rough by 55% in the space of a month. After three months, the number sleeping on the streets was reduced by 80%. Outreach Worker, Jon Mann-Smith, said: ‘Having the extra provision of the transition beds has been key to dealing with the high numbers of rough sleepers. If they weren’t there, the number of people on the street would still be climbing.’
Life doesn’t get much worse than finding yourself in a situation where nobody cares for you, you have no possessions and you live on the streets. This is the tragic reality for many who are homeless. As such, depression is common among WNHT service users. We try to do our very best to offer a new hope to homeless people and this is demonstrated in many practical ways: through accommodation, food, clothing, a listening ear, loving/encouraging words, qualified support workers, signposting to other agencies and much more. However, we recognise that it can take more than just physical provision to help people to turn their lives around. In May we began piloting a different sort of ‘new hope’ service at our Night Shelter. The Gideons are now supplying us with pocket Bibles for those sleeping in our care. These are now available at the bedside of every room and offer a unique message of hope through Jesus, who experienced human pain, suffering and even homelessness. Since 1899 The Gideons have been making the Bible available and accessible on a free-of-charge basis. This generous service now operates in 194 countries and, should you open a bedside drawer in a UK hotel, hospital or prison, you will probably find a copy. Today WNHT joins hundreds of thousands of locations worldwide in offering this service.
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VOLUNTEER profile DOREEN PYM Doreen Pym, who volunteers at the New Hope shop in Watford, is a familiar face to many in the town. She was recently given Watford Football Club’s 2011/12 Supporter of the Season Award for her long-standing commitment to the club, and her hard work in operating the Bill Mainwood Programme Hut. Doreen also gives up her time to help Watford New Hope Trust, and has a very important role in the Watford shop, although you probably won’t see her! Working behind the scenes, Doreen’s task is to sort donated plastic bags so that our customers can safely carry their purchases home. Thank you to Doreen and to all WNHT volunteers who give up their time to help homeless people in Watford.
AUTUMNWATCH! For all you Autumnwatch fans out there, this may be of interest… there is a rumour that our two Market Garden ponds are home to a small family of Great Crested Newts. We are trying to verify these sightings and we’ll try to bring you photos in a future newsletter!
On Friday 6 July, 40 young people braved the rains to sleep rough in the grounds of Watford Grammar School for Boys at Watford New Hope Trust’s Summer Sleepout. Sponsored by The Entertainer Toyshop, the sleepout enables young people to experience a taste of what it is like to be homeless. Participants built their own shelters out of cardboard, played games and heard about how Watford New Hope Trust helps homeless people in Watford. Tim Bond, Head Boy at Watford Grammar School for Boys, said: ‘The Summer Sleepout has given us a glimpse of what homeless people have to deal with night in, night out and is a great event in terms of raising money for Watford New Hope Trust.’ If you would like to experience sleeping out under the stars, why not sign up for the St Albans Sleepout on 7 December in the grounds of St Albans Abbey? Visit www.abbeysleepout.org for more information.
There was a sense of community spirit on Saturday 16 June as a small group of walkers took part in the Hope 2 Hope sponsored walk. The sound of laughter could probably be heard throughout the Hertfordshire countryside! Participants started off from our charity shop in Queens Road, and walked a beautiful eight-mile route through Cassiobury Park, Whippendell Woods and the Chess Valley to our recently-opened shop in Chorleywood. Some of the keener walkers then headed back to Watford taking in the sights and sounds of Rickmansworth Aquadrome, the Grand Union Canal and the Ebury Way. Matt Turmaine, the newly-elected councillor for Holywell and one of those taking part, said: ‘The route through Watford and the surrounding area was beautiful and the forecasted rain never materialised!’ The number of walkers may have been small but they each did a fantastic job of fundraising. The final total is expected to be well over £3,000. Thank you to everyone who took part and to all those who sponsored them.
PRAY FOR US ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ Philippians 4:6, New International Version
Every month we produce a Prayer Diary that helps guide people as they pray for the work of Watford New Hope Trust. This is a great way to keep in regular contact with what’s going on, to pray specifically for current needs and to thank God for the work that He has been doing. If you’d like to receive the Prayer Diary either by email or post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01923 227 132.
ARE YOU or someone you know facing homelessness? CALL OUR 24/7 EMERGENCY PHONE LINE ON:
0300 012 0168
GOT GREEN FINGERS?! We need volunteers to help at our Market Garden! Visit www.wnht.org/volunteering for more info!
HELPING HANDS AT HARVEST! We are looking for enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to help with Harvest this year. Visit www.wnht.org/volunteering or call Rebecca on 01923 227 132.
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Watford New Hope Trust is a registered charity (1080784) and a company limited by guarantee (03969063) Registered office: Cansdales, Bourbon Court, Nightingales Corner, Little Chalfont, Bucks, HP7 9QS.