our service users
Who uses our services?
Hope’s services span charity and social enterprise, and the people who use our services vary.
In our day centre for people who are poor and disadvantaged, many of the people who come in are street homeless – rough sleepers who have no proper home, with a roof, at all. These are people who sleep on the streets, but also in tents in woods, in garages, in cars, under railway arches and in squats. They are the most deprived and marginalised of all, and at any one time, there are up to 60 of them in Northampton. The risks to them from the lives they lead are appalling – death, overdose, frostbite, being abused, assaulted, set on fire, or harassed by property owners and authorities.
Many are from eastern Europe, and with no recourse to public funds, have nothing except what we give them. We keep them alive.
We only work with single homeless people or couples who are above 18. The majority of people we see are 25 or over, but we make real efforts to help those younger to move out of street homelessness as quickly as possible.
Alongside rough sleepers or the street homeless, a much larger group are still homeless but may have a roof over their heads, at least part of the time, although they will drop in and out of rough sleeping on occasion. Often they stay for short periods in people’s floors, on sofas, or on beds in cupboards. At any one time, there are up to 300 people like this in Northampton, and many come to Hope each day as they cannot stay in the places they sleep during the daytime.
Another group of people who access our service do have somewhere to live – but it may be of very poor quality and overcrowded. Terrible private rented properties where water runs down the walls and there is perhaps no heating in the winter, even though it is occupied by older people.
Some have their own flats but may have been previously homeless. They may have to share with other tenants who are aggressive and bullying, or use drugs, or commit crimes, or make lots of noise. They may be unable to afford to heat the flat, or pay for hot water or food. So they come in to us, for a welcome, warmth, clothes and showers.
It goes without saying that living in these circumstances often leads to chronic problems of substance misuse and mental ill-health. Sometimes, it was these problems that led to poverty and homelessness in the first place, but often they follow them. We welcome everyone and try to help people overcome these issues – and many more, from childhood or sexual abuse, problem gambling, physical health problems, debt, offending…..
The people who access our training and support to get employment come from the day centre, but also from a referral from probation, the Job Centre and other charities. They will all have specific needs like our day centre users, but they have been referred to us for help to move towards employability because of our expertise with people a long way from the labour market.
In our food club, we supply food to people on benefits: everyone we see is on a low income and strives every day to make ends meet. They may not all have the challenging issues our day centre users face, but their lives are still hard, on incomes that do not cover rent, heat, clothes, and food.
Stella – who runs our clothes store every day and who uses the day centre