Yarmouth churches’ homeless project completes 2 years
2018: The Living Room project based in Great Yarmouth has now completed its second season, and accommodated 31 different visitors last winter, providing 229 nights off the street for rough sleepers in Great Yarmouth and 458 meals.
The project grew out of a growing feeling amongst local church leaders that there was a need for a safe overnight space where rough sleepers could escape from the cold and wet, and that this might be a way in which the churches could use their resources to show God’s love to some of the most vulnerable in our society. The Living Room eventually opened its doors on the first weekend in January 2017.
The Living Room believes that every person, regardless of their circumstances, has great value and significance. Consequently, The Living Room seeks to foster a culture and atmosphere of welcome and mutual respect and warmth.
Last winter, the project was able to expand its provision this year from one night a week to three nights, each night hosted at a different church location. The locations were: Park Baptist Church, the King’s Centre and the Minster Mission, with the added bonus of the King’s Centre having access to showers.
A new Project Co-ordinator was employed for 30 hours a week for this winter. Her role was to receive referrals during the week, find out further information about the referred people if possible, and to carry out risk assessments. In addition, there were 44 volunteers fulfilling several different roles, including cooking, transporting bedding and equipment, setting up, welcoming visitors, serving meals, eating and interacting with visitors, washing up, supervising overnight, preparing breakfast, clearing up and washing and drying bedding.
Feedback from the volunteers included:
“I loved the night when one visitor sat at the table and said ‘This is like being in a real family’.”
“I loved speaking to the visitors, learning about their lives. Despite difficult circumstances they are kind and friendly to me.”
“I enjoyed seeing how strong and caring the people we help are. It would be so easy for them to give up, but they don’t. I find it inspiring.”
“I like the community feel and mutual respect. It’s great to be able to do something practical to help.”
Anna Heydon, Development worker with Imagine Norfolk Together, said “We believe that The Living Room has and will continue to have an impact and outcomes which surpasses the facts and figures in our report. During the running of The Living Room our Project Co-ordinator has been able to work individually with many of the visitors, meeting up with them during the week, in order to support them to define and achieve their goals. She has also worked closely with other agencies, and as a result, 8 of the visitors have had successful applications for benefits, 11 now have places to stay and 1 is in residential rehab. We also believe that The Living Room has also had a positive impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of the visitors.”
To see the full report, please contact Anna Heydon at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or phone 07471 357072
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