On 23rd March 2015, exactly 25 years after New Hope was launched, over 300 people gathered together at St Mary’s Church in Watford to mark the occasion with a birthday celebration service. Following our theme of 2015, ‘Together, we are New Hope’, the service focused on celebrating and thanking the different groups which make up the New Hope team. The service featured: a video including footage from the official launch in 1990 (which can now be viewed at newhope.org.uk/media);
a drama (pictured above) which told the stories of three service users; times for worship and remembrance and an address by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, who spoke poignantly on hope. Our chief executive, Matthew Heasman, said: ‘It was so wonderful to see so many people come together to celebrate 25 years of New Hope. ‘St Mary’s was such an apt venue, as it was here, over 25 years ago, that Janet Hosier and Sheila Meaning met and were called to help the men and women they
Research shows that art can benefit health. We take a look at how we put this into practice in our garden.
We hear from a service user who overcame homelessness with the help of New Hope.
We speak to three of our amazing volunteers who serve in different ways within New Hope.
A collection was taken during the service, which raised £3,271.88 for our work! A further £300 was raised through the sale of anniversary mugs and new editions of Entertaining Angels, the inspirational story of New Hope.
Buy a mug or a copy of Entertaining Angels! Pictured: Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith
saw around St Mary’s who were homeless.
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‘I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been part of the New Hope team, whether staff member, volunteer, supporter or service user, over the past 25 years, and to thank everyone who played a part in the celebration service.’
In our shops Located in Chorleywood, Croxley Green and Watford
This year, we are running a campaign to gain 25x25 ‘Friends’ of New Hope; approximately the same number (625) as the number of people we support each year. ‘Friends’ are people who make a regular donation to New Hope, whether that’s monthly, quarterly or annually. Giving regularly is one of the best ways to support our work as it enables us to plan with more certainty, and we are so grateful to our existing ‘Friends’ for doing just that.
encourage your friends to do the same. Individually, we might not be able to do much, but together, brick by brick, we can make a lasting difference to those who are homeless or vulnerably-housed in Watford and the local area.
To become a ‘Friend of New Hope’, please sign up to give regularly. Online
Call 01923 227 132
Email Whether you give £1 or £100, what matters is giving what you can. Your friends are the people you can depend on. We and our service users depend on people like you. Please become a ‘Friend’ and
Research has shown that there are many positive benefits of art and creativity, especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. At our Community Market Garden we have seen this in action. Approximately two out of three New Hope service users have mental health difficulties, and the Community Market Garden offers them the opportunity to explore their creativity through art, writing, gardening, craft and music. These creative outlets have proved to be very therapeutic and have acted as a catalyst for healing anxiety and low self-confidence. It has been especially helpful to those who are less comfortable expressing themselves with words. ‘The poetry sessions have helped to improve my social communication skills.’ ‘Doing artwork really helped me as it gave me a break to be able to put things into perspective.’ During a creative writing session with a guest tutor, one of the service users composed this poem (see right). It is accompanied by a pottery dragon (pictured left) that the same service user made in a workshop at the Haven Support Centre. The dragon now sits in the garden.
SKY DRAGON If I were a dragon I would breathe fire and air, If I was a dragon, I would fly through the air! If I was a dragon of fire and water I wouldn’t really care Cos I am a dragon with a sense of freedom, Who does really care. I have dreams of clouds, Freedom flying through air, Dreams of fire cleansing heat, Dreams of wildness, innocence Fresh air.
In our last newsletter, we launched an urgent appeal for funding for our Transition Service, which supports people facing homelessness for the first time by providing crisis accommodation and personal, intensive support. The service was launched in 2012, thanks to funding from the Homelessness Transition Fund, and has supported, on average, 166 people a year, since then. We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the incredible response to the appeal, we will be able to run the Transition Service for another year. In total, over £40,000 has been donated; £11,452.77 of which was from people like you. Thank you so much. The remaining amount was donated by various local organisations. Again, thank you for your generosity. This funding will have a huge impact on people in our community who are facing homelessness. With the Transition Service running for at least another year, we are able to continue to provide a bed and support for people who find themselves homeless to enable them to recover quickly. People like Adrian, who became homeless when his landlord evicted him after he called Environmental Health regarding the poor state of his rented house. He was on leave from work for
anxiety and his money soon ran out. Adrian slept in a tent in a local park for two weeks. He went to the Haven Support Centre and was referred to the Transition Service. After 12 nights he moved into the Night Shelter and within a month of coming to Transition he’d moved again into the Cluster Flats. ‘…since moving in here I’ve felt so comfortable and relaxed…you’ve got the staff there to guide you…I can’t fault it.’ We are so touched by the way our community has pulled together to raise the amount needed to continue this vital service. It shows that when everyone works together and gives what they can, we can raise the funding we need to keep supporting people in our community who are homeless or at risk of losing their home. New Hope has always been and continues to be a local charity dependent on the support of our community. As the need for our services grows, so does our need for funding. Please continue to give generously so we can continue to prevent homelessness and transform lives. Thank you.
At New Hope, our support, accommodation and development services all work together to help men and women, such as Austin, get back on their feet again – and stay there: ‘I lost my council flat, access to all benefits and was unable to work because I was made “stateless”. I survived for a while through help from family and friends but I ended up turning to crime as I had no way to survive. This led to a custodial sentence which was followed by 17 months in an immigration detention centre. Eventually the Home Office withdrew their application for my deportation and I then spent around three months alternating between sleeping rough and sofasurfing.
referred me to the Sanctuary Night Shelter. I then stayed in a number of New Hope accommodation services and moved into my own Housing Association flat last year. ‘New Hope helped me to evaluate my behaviour which had got me into trouble, including my drug use. I was also given the opportunity to do something productive with my time through the HopeWorks scheme – I helped in the HopeWorks electricals shop on Queens Road. This work experience enabled me to find part-time employment. ‘Now that I have a job and am in my own flat, I receive help from New Hope’s Tenancy Sustainment Team. I have managed to stay on top of my bills and have established a good routine.’
‘Watford Borough Council told me about New Hope and I went to the Haven Support Centre who
You may be shocked to learn that the average life expectancy of a homeless person is only 47 years old, compared to 77 years for the general population (Crisis, Homelessness: A Silent Killer, December 2011). Over the years, we have sadly mourned many service users and for some time we have wanted to create a dedicated space in the Community Market Garden to remember those known to us who have passed away. We are delighted to say that a memorial garden – and much more besides – has been made possible by the generosity of Aase Blythe (1932-2013) to and through her sons. A team of service users worked hard to clear an underdeveloped area of the garden and created a hazel fence. Alan, a service user with severe and long-term substance abuse difficulties, designed and built the gate using materials sourced from our Watford Shop. Working on this project gave Alan a clear sense of achievement as well as highlighting new skills. It also kept him from associating with a peer group that would
encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. Two sparrows were delicately engraved on a memorial stone which call to mind Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew: ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’ Matthew 10:29-31. At New Hope, we believe that God knows and cares intimately for every service user; each individual – regardless of their history – is precious to Him. Through our actions (whether that is helping a rough sleeper find somewhere safe to stay, holding a key-working session with a resident or training a service user in a new skill), we aim to demonstrate the Father’s care and compassion. Our hope and prayer is that this beautiful garden will be a safe place of peace and reflection where we can all remember and give thanks for precious lives. You are welcome to visit the Aase Blythe Memorial Garden during the Community Market Open Days on 23rd May and 26th September.
Our unsung heroes Our amazing volunteers joyfully serve with passion, dedication and energy. Linda (pictured) is the Deputy Manager of the New Hope Shop in Watford and has been volunteering since it first opened 21 years ago. Linda (who always wanted to be a librarian) manages the book department as well as the shop team every Wednesday â€“ allowing Polly, 12
the Shop Manager, to have a well-earned day off. LINDA SAYS: ‘The New Hope shop is not just “retail” – it’s family, church and a shop. We know customers’ names and they know ours. We have clothed people who have stood in the shop wearing only their pyjamas and people have slept on our sofa. We have given away and God has given back – never worrying about the next bag or box to be unpacked when someone in need has required our time. ‘It is a real privilege to serve the community in this way, knowing that each day in the shop helps provide someone with advice, food, clothes, warmth and a bed.’ Pat has helped with administration in the New Hope Head Office for over four years. She is an absolute legend and not only helps the Fundraising and Communications Team with administration but is also the ‘mum’ of the team! PAT SAYS: ‘I first offered to volunteer when I heard that the Fundraising and Communications Team needed help with filing.
Now I update the database, write thank you letters, help at the Community Market Garden open days, wrap Christmas presents and do anything else I can! I really enjoy being involved.’ Rod is one of our green-fingered garden volunteers. He has also helped build a shed and is currently designing and building a chicken run. ROD SAYS: ‘I saw a flyer for one of the Community Market Garden open days – anything that mentions gardens attracts my attention! It seemed like an opportunity to indulge my lifelong love of growing and do something helpful for those less fortunate than myself.’
If you’d like to volunteer, please contact us. Online
Call 01923 210 680
Brrrrave Dave! The Revd Canon Dave Middlebrook, vicar of St Luke’s Church in Watford, took part in the Watford Sleepout and shared his experience with us: ‘On Friday 6th February five members of the St Luke’s staff team slept rough outside St Mary’s Church. We hadn’t been thrown out of our homes by our respective families, or taken leave of our senses, but were involved in the New Hope sleepout. ‘At approximately 9pm we gathered in St Mary’s Church Hall to be given some guidance for the night ahead. We heard some stories and facts about the work of New Hope, and then we each selected our spot on the grass outside the hall. 14
two survival bags, I realised what a hard and demoralising life it must be to have to do this every night.
Pictured: St Luke’s Church staff team
‘We attempted to sleep. There were accusations of snoring made at some of the male members of the team, which of course I deny emphatically. I managed some fitful sleep from about midnight to 3.30am, and was woken by the last of the revellers passing by on their way home from the pubs and nightclubs. The sky was clear and the stars were out, but it was bitterly cold. At one point in the night we recorded a temperature – including frost and wind chill – of -8˚c degrees! ‘I had to get up at 4am because by then I was chilled to the bone as the intense cold seeped up from the paving under my sleeping bag. We had the advantage of being able to use the facilities at St Mary’s, which those really sleeping rough would be unable to do. As I lay shivering in my many layers of clothes, two sleeping bags and
‘I also realised that through sheer coldness and tiredness any energy and determination to change your circumstances would be frozen out of you. It gave me a new perspective on the plight of the homeless in our community and while it was almost (I think) enjoyable to do it as a team for one night, such an existence over a long period of time would be draining and dehumanising. ‘Jesus asks us to care for the vulnerable in our society, let us seek to do what we can to enable people to regain something of their humanity again.’ If you would like to take part in a sleepout and help raise funds for our work, the next one is at St Albans Abbey on Friday 4th December.
For more info, contact: Online
Call 01923 227 132
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GARDEN OPEN DAY
COMMUNITY MARKET GARDEN SAT 23RD MAY, 10.30AM - 3PM
YOUR SCHOOL, CHURCH OR GROUP SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 2015
WATFORD MUSEUM 30TH APRIL - 23RD MAY
ST MARY’S CHURCH, WATFORD SAT 27TH JUNE, 9AM - 5PM
SUMMER SLEEPOUT YOUTH
SOUL SURVIVOR WATFORD CHURCH FRI 3RD JULY, 9PM - 7AM
COMMUNITY MARKET GARDEN SAT 26TH SEPT, 10.30AM - 3PM
NEW HOPE EXHIBITION
GARDEN OPEN DAY
WINTER SLEEPOUT ST ALBANS ABBEY FRI 4TH DEC, 9PM - 7AM
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR EVENTS, VISIT NEWHOPE.ORG.UK
Our most recent newsletter with stories and updates of New Hope's work over the last few months.