Funding was secured to start building an annexe onto our Short Term Assessment Hostel to enable us to provide individual rooms for all clients and create a new way of working with clients we have previously struggled to engage with. The plan to build a 6 bed annexe was approved and building started!
We obtained funding for our first Substance Misuse Social Work Co-Ordinator (SMSWC) who will provide specialist support to clients and the team with the benefit of a social work qualification. One of the benefits the SMSWC brings is the ability to advocate for our clients with statutory bodies. Our SMSWC has been working with clients with dual diagnosis (substance abuse difficulties alongside mental illness) whose children are on a Child Protection Plan. Due to the deeper understanding the SMSWC has of the statutory sector they are able to both navigate the system with the client and explain some decisions or delays in a way that helps the client understand they are not being victimised but that we are working with a very stretched and pressured system. Increasing this understanding and providing a support network for the client where they know they are not on their own has helped in relapse prevention.
A Women's Group has started at St Clare's. This is one morning a week where St Clare's is a women only facility with only female staff and clients. For some of our female clients this space enables them to access our service where they may otherwise feel uncomfortable doing so. The group is hosted by a staff member from the Brighton Women's Centre and provides a hot breakfast, shower facilities, information and confidential advice to women who are homeless or insecurely housed.
Services in Littlehampton have developed. As well as the Breakfast Club Littlehampton Services have a PRS Access Worker and an Accommodation Support Worker helping provide wrap around support. The primary problem in this area is people being insecurely housed so there is a lot of work around finding suitable accommodation and sustaining it. Recognising the need for support for individuals struggling with substance misuse we are looking to progress into providing recovery fosucssed services.
WCHP are very grateful to the Littlehampton United Church for their fantastic support and enthusiasm for our work.
Funding secured at the Recovery Project for new gym equipment and for a qualified trainer to provide health and fitness assessments and training to residents to improve their physical wellbeing.
The development of activities at St Clare's Day Centre has continued in response to the requests of our clients and the initiative of dedicated members of staff who have the vision that there should be opportunities for clients to achieve their potential and have meaningful lives. Today activities include:
- Twice weekly music group which is client led,
- Hearing voices group which provides peer support,
- Pre-hostel – preparing people for the realities of living in a hostel
- Auricular Acupuncture
- Open Access- for clients who may have be excluded from WCHP and or town wide services
- Anger Management
Worthing Churches Homeless Projects continues to develop services in response to the needs of people in the community who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
In response to the needs of clients the decision was taken to redevelop the under used lounge at the Recovery Project into a family room. This has enabled residents to maintain and rebuild contact with family whilst at the Project, allowing them to visit in a secure environment which incorporates a small kitchen area and disabled access toilet.
WCHP were successful in their bid to administer the West Sussex County Council’s Local Assistance Network for the Worthing and Shoreham area. The Local Assistance Network provides immediate short-term aid to help protect a person’s welfare by preventing a crisis through the provision of non-cash support such as furniture, food, clothing, help with transport and fuel costs.
With the unfortunate closure of the LCT Homelink charity in Littlehampton in late 2013, WCHP were asked to step in to continue the Breakfast Club that ran 4 days a week. With the support of the local churches in Littlehampton the breakfast club continues to run and WCHP also now provides a private rented sector access service, helping vulnerable people secure and maintain appropriate accommodation in the Littlehampton area.
Recognising the need to provide meaningful occupation, confidence and the skills of clients the charity opened the strand charity shop which also doubled as a second hand bicycle refurbishing service. This has enabled clients to train and gain a recognised qualification in bicycle mechanics.
Saw the head office team move from the offices adjoining the Recovery Project enabling the opening of Stage 2 which enables 5 people in recovery to make further steps towards independent living. The Recovery Project team also began to deliver a 12 week group work course with residents to further assist them in their recovery journey and prepare individuals for living in the community.
5 bedroom move-on accommodation was secured at a peppercorn rent. The property provides semi-independent interim move-on accommodation for five clients who will be overseen by visiting staff. The accommodation complements our existing Projects and provides another excellent opportunity to assist our clients on the road to independent living.
In 2009 the charity was gifted 5 houses from Worthing and Goring Congregational Housing Societies (a non-profit making housing trust) which provided bedsit accommodation for 22 vulnerable people. These houses have been renamed community housing and continue to accommodate those deemed as vulnerable.
Also during this year the first charity shop opened in Montague Street Worthing helping to raise funds for core services.
A new Recreation Room was built at Cornerstone House funded by money raised by employees of local company MGM. Finance was secured to recruit a 'Homelessness Prevention Worker'.
The manager of the of St Clare’s Day Centre began to develop afternoon activities for clients, these included an art and games session, cooking sessions and courses run by a local college. An Outreach café began to be held at St Clare’s day for those who had moved out of WCHP accommodation into their own. It was set up as a source of peer support and to reduce isolation that many clients felt once moving into independent living. In 2009 the Outreach Café moved to Cornerstone Methodist church as many clients felt that a re-visiting St Clare’s Day Centre brought back painful memories of the early days of being homeless and that they had moved on.
A property was purchased from Guild Care and named after a client Pat Delaney who had died on the streets of Worthing from hypothermia and who could have benefited from just such a service. This project, known as The Recovery Project, opened its doors to the first clients in April 2006 with an outstanding mortgage of over £400k. The project provides full time support for people wishing to take control of their addictions to enable them to move towards an independent life. Each resident has two rooms in the property to use as a bedroom and lounge. There are also two communal lounges with fitness equipment, a communal dining room and commercial kitchen. Bicycles are provided at all projects to encourage fitness and provide free and easy mobility.
The property at Queens Road was sold as it was decided that we needed larger premises. Guild Care offered a temporary building which was surplus to their requirements, as a new longer term project. The aim was to provide greater stability for clients whilst they worked on some of the major issues which affected their ability to live independently. Project Workers worked with clients to motivate them, encourage them to take responsibility for their own lives and actions and to consider the impact their behaviour had on others. Residents were asked, to undertake cooking, house cleaning and shopping activities and to work together as members of a community. Initially residents were allowed to stay for three months and were encouraged to find work, either voluntary or paid, and move back into the community to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Contact with the projects was maintained after they had left if required.
In partnership with local and national voluntary and statutory agencies, in 2000, funding was secured to enable the appointment of a Mental Health Worker and Substance Misuse Outreach Worker.
The temporary use of Guild Care accommodation was coming to a conclusion and in 2001, Cornerstone House was purchased to provide accommodation for 12 people. Fundraising commenced in earnest to raise the additional £95,000 needed and the goal was reached in just 9 months. Again in 2001, Worthing Borough Council sold St Clare's Day Centre to Worthing Churches Homeless Projects at a peppercorn price as a venue to host an all year round breakfast service plus structured afternoon sessions addressing employment, life skills and health issues around a 'dry' lunch club. It also housed the offices of the General Manager and other Worthing Churches Homeless Projects staff. By this time the issue of homelessness had become a concern to the local authority and Worthing Churches Homeless Projects were well represented by membership of their local homeless forum and the issue became part of the local strategy for Worthing.
Over the next few years, the properties remained constant but the services were developed to meet the ever growing needs locally. Clients living at Rupert Bacon House and Cornerstone House are required to abstain from the use of alcohol and drugs during their period of residence. It became apparent that there was a gap in local services and accommodation was needed for homeless people who were addicted to drink or drugs.
Worthing Churches Homeless Projects took back direct management of the projects and the following year a suitable property was purchased. The new Direct Access Hostel, named Rupert Bacon House after the local clergyman, who originally identified and secured the first property used as a Direct Access Hostel, was developed to provide full board accommodation and support from a Resettlement Officer and staff. The number of residents was set to 14 with an accommodation period of 6 weeks. During this time clients are encouraged and supported in their efforts to find their own accommodation and sort out any health or financial issues.
A Day Centre was piloted in a local church hall. This highlighted the fact that the direct access hostel only scratched the surface of local need.
The 'First Response' side of the project continued during this period. Twice a week a hot meal was served during the evening from Christ Church Hall in Portland Road to between 20 to 40 individuals. Along with food and warmth, clothing, advice and friendship were also to be found. The soup run still took place during the spring and summer months. During the winter, the Project provided a breakfast instead from premises loaned from Worthing Borough Council in Chapel Road. In the winter of 2000 numbers regularly exceeded 20 people.
During this time First Response had an administrative office at the Welcome Inn in Crescent Road where they ran an afternoon drop in service for people with accommodation or general welfare problems. First Response also interviewed people to try and help with accommodation or general welfare problems. On occasions they also provided food parcels or helped them to obtain essential, basic items of clothing / furniture.
Agreement was reached between Worthing Churches Homeless Projects and the Christian Alliance for the purchase of a Direct Access Hostel better suited to the needs of the current homeless community. A major appeal was launched to raise the necessary funds.
Following an approach to them, Worthing Borough Council made available a house in Stoke Abbott Road which it had been using as offices but which was scheduled for redevelopment. The council retained the right to terminate the tenancy at any time because the building and adjoining properties were about to be put on the market. The shelter moved to Stoke Abbott Road on 1 March 1992.
The new premises were a great improvement on Christ Church Hall and consisted of a two storey building divided into quite large rooms. There was no proper bathroom but a temporary shower was installed in a Portakabin in the backyard. A narrow passage by the back door was equipped with a second-hand oven and became the kitchen. The adjoining room was the dining room where as many as 30 people sat down to eat on some evenings – not all of them staying the night. This experience served to provide a clearer picture of the needs of local homeless people, particularly regarding rehabilitation. The house itself stood out as a centre of genuine Christian care in which members of churches of all denominations were willingly participating.
During the stay at Stoke Abbott Road there was a constant awareness that the council might at any time ask for their property back. As the weeks went by the determination to find alternative premises increased, as did the prayers of those involved. One of the possibilities considered was a large house in near the town centre that had been a hostel owned and run by The Christian Alliance. It was empty and up for sale but was known to have been on the market for some time. The Christian Alliance was approached and after careful consideration of the background of the project and its brief track record, they generously agreed to a short term tenancy at a peppercorn rent. Once again matters were resolved in the nick of time and the move took place at the beginning of August 1992.
Compared with the previous premises, this property provided sheer luxury. It had:
- Purpose built kitchen with catering size oven
- Pleasant dining room and lounge
- A room which doubled as an office
- A warden's bedroom
- Space on the ground floor for a washing machine and drier.
On the upper floor the bedrooms and bathrooms provided a degree of privacy which the clients hadn't previously known and up to 18 people were squeezed in.
Whilst all this was taking place, much preliminary work was being done towards the alterations to the house in Queens Road. Money was raised and with the promise of grants from the borough council, the main contract was put in hand in November 1992 and completed May 1993.
Throughout this time many local people were giving a great deal of time and effort to the business side of the projects. The trustees decided that day to day management should be put in the hands of a company limited by guarantee and this was how the Worthing Churches Homeless Projects came into being. The first chairman was the Rev John Haggerty, minister of the United Reformed Church in Shelley Road, and the directors (all unpaid) were each made responsible for a particular aspect of the work. In the summer of 1992, John Haggerty returned to America and his place was taken by the Rev Garry Guinness, team rector of the Parish of Christ the King. The other directors were Ian Cheal, Peter Febens, Rev David Burt, Ron Lee and Jim Reynolds.
Towards the end of 1992, it was agreed that Queens Road would serve the needs of homeless people better if it were used solely as a hostel offering medium to longer term support to those who had already come some way along the road to rehabilitation with the more immediate needs of the homeless being met with the existing night shelter facilities nearby. The experience gained in running the shelter in three different locations had already highlighted the administrative difficulties that needed to be dealt with in the spare time of the volunteers who were already working full time themselves. It was apparent these would increase as the work was extended. The directors decided to seek outside help and advice.
Contact had already been made with the Christian Housing Trust which ran similar projects in Kent, Torquay and elsewhere. In the early part of 1993 it was agreed that CHT would be responsible for the day to day managements of both Queens Road and the new property on a 3 year contract. CHT undertook to select and employ staff and meet the outgoings on the two buildings, recovering their costs from Housing Benefits, grants, donations and a management fee.
Queens Road was completed and opened on 10 June 1993. Once again local people had responded generously. CHT had appointed six staff.
A number of local Christians, led by the Lord, became concerned at the number of people sleeping rough in Worthing. They started touring the seafront, pier and shelters on the prom with soup and sandwiches during Sunday evenings. For the first few weeks they found no one, but one evening, after much prayer, they met 'Bill' who had previously refused help but this time he asked for soup and some shoes. They gave him the soup and arranged to see him the next week with some shoes. The word soon spread amongst the homeless people and the converts told of the genuine desire to help. Numbers soon grew to an average of 12 people a week. By February 1991 about 20 volunteers were involved and the project was named First Response.
Meanwhile the problem was being discussed at meetings of Churches Together in Worthing. It was proposed that a large house should be bought where such people could be fed, housed and ministered to, but the high cost seemed to make such a project impossible. However, in 1990 the Rev Rupert Bacon was advised that a local charitable trust was about to be wound up by the Charity Commissioners because no successors had been appointed by the former trustees. The trust owned a property in Buckingham Road and the commissioners agreed that if suitable trustees could be found they could use the proceeds from the sale of the building to establish a night shelter and hostel for the homeless. Rupert Bacon quickly found four like-minded people and they became, with him, the new trustees. Within a remarkably short time the property was sold for £160,000.
The trust used the money to buy a disused boarding house at 2 Queens Road. More money would be required for renovation and start-up costs and it soon became apparent that it would take a long time to raise this through local government grants and other sources. Meanwhile the problems of homelessness, alcohol and drug abuse were increasing day by day.
In view of their concerns about this, the trustees agreed that some form of temporary provision should be made and in February 1992 the church hall of Christ Church in the centre of Worthing was opened as a temporary night shelter. Homeless people were given a bed for the night and a hot meal. It was staffed by volunteers with a full time supervisor, himself an ex homeless person. Within the first couple of weeks it was apparent that local people were very supportive as they were providing gifts of money, food, clothing and practical help.