We spoke with Jane Deakin to find out more about the work they do and how the £4,500 grant they received is being used.
Tell me about your group.
We run a drop-in centre for the homeless 4 days a week. We provide meals, plus washing facilities and laundry services on 3 days. Help is available with housing, obtaining benefits, setting up home, tenancy sustainment, financial management and health issues. We currently have 56 registered guests and usually cater for up to 20 for lunches.
How many people are currently actively involved in the group’s work?
There are 4 part time paid staff and around 60 volunteers. The staff oversee the project, provide help and support for both clients and volunteers. Clients receive support on a range of issues as above.
The volunteers cook, serve meals, wash clothes, and provide general hospitality.
Please can you explain the group’s current projects, activities and services that are being delivered?
The project aims to offer a safe, friendly welcome to homeless guests and provide them with showers, clean clothes, fresh food, support with finding a home and dealing with many issues. It is an expensive business, the core running costs and general bills require BCF money along with other sources of financial help. Without BCF the core funding would be lacking.
What are the group’s key relationships? Which groups are you working with on similar projects?
The Homeless Project comes under the WCA charity which is supported by local churches and organisations such as the Shanly Foundation, Pret, Radian Housing, Prince Philip Trust, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Thames Valley Police, Edith Murphy Foundation, as well as BCF. We have good relations with local press and radio. The Royal Wedding news has resulted in the town’s homelessness and the WCA going global. We have produced a number of souvenir items (such as mugs and towels) to sell with the homeless logo on them.
What would you say are the biggest challenges for the group at the moment?
We are very lucky with volunteer numbers and this fantastic venue. Our only challenge is funding. Funding for core needs is a constant worry as are ongoing daily expenses.
What was the unmet need for your group’s services during the last year?
If the funding allowed we’d love to expand the project to include more post housing support. People need support after they are housed as loneliness can be a real problem. In addition health issues like eating well, drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown and stress require professional help.
Please can you tell me about how the group hopes to develop?
We want to continue with this project and help for our guests and to eventually expand to more post housing help.
Can you give me an example of an individual who benefited from participating in the group?
Recently a man in his 40’s was made homeless following a relationship breakdown. He came to the WCA centre, we helped him with his drinking and got him into a flat. He was given furniture and support. He began voluntary work and was on job seekers allowance. He gained enough confidence to apply for work and found paid work in a restaurant. His drinking is in control, he’s confident and has a purpose in life.
Thank you for your time. We think you are doing a great job and look forward to hearing more in the future.