Norwich charity ready for new lead
Norwich-based Head of Network for Hope into Action, Kate Doran-Smith, reflects on how she began with the Christian homelessness charity nine years ago and a new job opportunity it has in Norwich.
I’ve always thought keys were a pretty symbolic item.
I can remember picking up the keys from the estate agent for the first Hope Into Action house I was responsible for opening back in 2013. I marked the momentous occasion with a photo (above) and a little dance in the privacy of my lounge!
Opening homes for those who are homeless or vulnerably housed is, in itself, an honourable act of course. Some could argue it’s social justice, others a basic human right and others an ethical responsibility and they’d all be right.
To house and support some of the most marginalised in society with beautiful, quality, fully furnished homes bought using capital from private, anonymous investors and partnering with local churches who work alongside Hope Into Action and offer the tenants practical, emotional, pastoral and spiritual support, takes an honourable act into a whole new stratosphere. It’s the biblical mandate explained in Isaiah 58 in a 21st Century context.
Handing over keys to a tenant on move in day is a deeply significant moment. Not only do they have a safe place to call home (for the past 3 years, when asked how they’d describe the HIA experience and what the best thing about it is the word “safety” continually comes out top), but we (the Church) are offering them the opportunity and the ‘keys’ to a brighter future. One where their past mistakes and trauma are accepted and understood, but a clean slate is offered. Shame and judgement have no place in the future we see for them and that is truly liberating.
I first came to know about Hope Into Action when they were getting set up in Norwich in 2012. I became one of the first Empowerment Workers here and then had the privilege to grow and lead the project to 10 homes, stepping into my role as part of HIA UK’s Exec four years ago as Head of Network. We have recently opened our 95th home and operate in 30 locations across the UK, from Northumberland to Bristol.
When I passed over the baton of ‘Norwich Team Lead’ to Tony Gray in 2018 I knew the team, partner churches and tenants were in safe hands. With homes now open in Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, Wymondham and (soon to be) Dereham the Norwich Team may well need to consider a name change soon!
Tony is stepping into a greatly deserved retirement, so the time has come to look for his replacement. He will be leaving big shoes to fill, but I’m excited to see who this fantastic opportunity may appeal to. Having personally done the job myself, I couldn’t recommend it enough and it will always have a special place in my heart. The question is: to whom will the ‘keys’ now be passed to?
If you have a passion for supporting vulnerable people, value all the unique talents and gifts a church can bring to the life of tenants and have an empowering, team focused and pastoral approach to line management – this may well be the job for you.
I look forward to hearing from you as the Norwich Hope Into Action team enters an exciting new season. With only Peterborough having more HIA homes open than Norwich, could it be time to make a challenge for the title?!
For a free copy of our book ‘House built on love’ (a story from the first decade of Hope Into Action) or an informal chat about the role, please get in touch.
Kate.firstname.lastname@example.org 07908 202944
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