Big House, Clapham
Since 2002, Big House has provided supported accommodation for homeless ex-servicemen from the armed forces in its complex of 11 self-contained flats. Residents – many of whom have suffered chaotic and difficult experiences – benefit from a calm and stable environment and the support of professional staff, who encourage them to make sustainable changes to their lives, take on more personal responsibility and gain the training and remunerative employment they require to move on. Over 120 ex-servicemen have lived at Big House over the years, the average stay being around 14 months. The Story of Christmas is refurbishing the kitchens in each of the 11 flats – essential aspects of the accommodation, which require complete renovation. These have the additional function of enabling the ex-servicemen to learn to prepare basic meals for themselves.
Connection @ St Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square
For over 60 years, Connection at St Martin’s-in-the-Fields has been a leading homelessness centre in central London. Facilities include daily street-outreach-work; a drop-in centre with laundry, showers, canteen and activity groups; an emergency night shelter and the provision of housing advice and referrals, legal advice, training and employment support, healthcare and specialist mental health and substance misuse support. Connection at St Martin’s helps over 3,000 people annually to avoid, move away from and stay off the streets. In addition to exposure to the elements, poor sleep and fear for safety; a key challenge for rough-sleepers is the question of keeping themselves clean. Therefore, the showers at Connection at St Martin’s operate at capacity all year round. The Story of Christmas is renovating the men’s showers, which are used by over 380 homeless men every week. The new showers will be more durable, safer, more hygienic, easier to maintain and include new washbasin facilities with adjustable taps.
Haven House Children’s Hospice, Woodford Green
Haven House Children’s Hospice provides specialist care for children and young people, from birth to the age of 19, who are unlikely to reach adulthood. The hospice also provides a range of support services to families, including day, short-break and end-of-life care. At any one time, around 300 families are supported by the hospice and a new annexe is now needed. As part of the new development programme, The Story of Christmas is creating a dedicated complementary therapy room with adjoining disabled washing facilities, enabling the hospice to expand the range of therapies it provides and accommodate them more effectively.
Hope Community Homes, Brixton (in association with CRASH and London City Mission)
Hope Community Homes is a project managed by London City Mission in association with CRASH (a charity that is regularly supported by The Story of Christmas). The project’s aim is to bring hope to broken people by providing [ ]one-bedroomed flats for rough sleepers who have been identified at London City Mission’s Webber Street homelessness centre in Waterloo (which The Story of Christmas supported in 2012). Many homeless people who manage to get off the streets and secure housing merely end up on the streets again after a short while because of persistent struggles with a range of problems, or their inability to tackle the responsibilities that come with having a home. Hope Community Homes provides safe accommodation to rough sleepers for two years – enough time to enable them to rebuild their lives – as well as a range of support services, practical and pastoral care. The Story of Christmas is supporting the development of three new flats, enabling the charity to support more people.
Richard House Children’s Hospice, Beckton (in association with Wooden Spoon)
Richard House Children’s Hospice is a purpose-built children’s hospice that provides palliative care and support for families whose children are at risk of death from life-limiting illness. The hospice provides day care for respite and play, overnight accommodation for respite and end-of-life care and support training for teenagers with life-limiting conditions in preparation for their transfer to adult hospice accommodation. Over 300 families are on the care register, 75% of which come from the area of Newham where 53% of families are registered as existing below the poverty line. The Story of Christmas is assisting the renovation of Richard House by relocating and refurbishing both the Rainbow Suite and the Quiet Room. The Rainbow Suite includes a chilled room, where a child can stay after they have died, and a small lounge where families can spend time on their own – a private space where people go through the very difficult process of saying goodbye. The Quiet Room is a special space where children at the hospice and families can spend time together. The redevelopment of Richard House is being managed by Wooden Spoon (a charity that The Story of Christmas has worked with in 2011 and 2012).
Transform Housing and Support, Surrey
Supporting over 1,000 each year, Transform Housing and Support helps vulnerable homeless people (including people with mental health issues or learning disabilities, people in recovery from drug or alcohol dependency, ex-offenders and marginalised young people) by providing them with a comfortable home where they can feel safe. The charity also provides one-to-one support from professional staff, enabling residents to gain life skills, improve their health and wellbeing, build up their confidence and gain access to training, education, voluntary work and employment – empowering vulnerable people to reach their goals and live independent, stable lives. The charity’s Empty Homes Project involves regenerating vacant properties to create new supported housing facilities. The Story of Christmas is supporting this initiative by renovating one of the new properties.
West London Day Centre, Marylebone
Supporting around 100 rough-sleepers each day, West London Day Centre provides food, showers, healthcare, clothing, advice and – crucially – a range of support services designed to enable the rough-sleepers to gain the remunerative employment they need to get off the streets. With access to the internet, links to employers and help with the preparation of CV’s, homeless people are able to successfully apply for local jobs. Recently, rough-sleepers have used the centre’s facilities to gain work in the catering, construction, baking, engineering and hotel industries – putting an end their homelessness. More space at the centre is required to accommodate these services and The Story of Christmas is funding the development of the basement area at the centre, which is currently unused, for this purpose.
A new initiative for 2013: SOS – Saving Outdoor Sleepers (managed by The Story of Christmas)
Over 5,000 people sleep rough on London’s streets every night. The average life expectancy for a long-term rough sleeper is 42 years (compared to 79 for the average UK life expectancy). Last winter, London experienced a long period of severe weather conditions. Temperatures were often below freezing and cold weather continued into April. These conditions made life even more horrendous than usual for rough-sleepers. The provision of a sleeping bag to a rough-sleeper is considered to be a godsend. By enabling homeless people to keep warm in the bitter, cold night air, perilous health risks are reduced and the basic chance of a night’s sleep is increased. This literally saves lives. The Story of Christmas is collaborating with four central London homelessness centres (The Passage, Union Chapel, West London Day Centre and Webber Street Centre) to provide sleeping