Lockdown is coming to an end…we hope, and this means a time to look forward, to the new shape of the world, and Hope’s role within it.
Hope has not just been an homelessness charity for years, yet most people know this part of our work better than the others.
Our day centre has always helped people who are both immediately and acutely homeless, rough sleepers and sofa surfers. But it has also always helped those in supported housing, such as living above us at Oasis House. We have also helped other people in accomodation, who are lonely, isolated, suffer ill health, or have problems with addiction and mental health.
Separately we have been helping, mainly through food aid, a much wider group of people without enough money to live on – and this work is becoming ever more central to Hope.
The covid crisis has hurt people in poverty more than anyone else: killed more of them, wrecked more of their mental health, reduced the income they have to spend. People who are homeless are just one part of that spectrum of need that Hope helps to address.
So please try to think of Hope as a charity that works with lots of people in need, of whom the homeless are just one part, important though that is. Increasingly, from here on, we are a poverty charity first and foremost, addressing the needs of the now several million in unemployment, for whom benefits are not enough, and whose needs are considerable.
- We will continue to offer basic things, like food, like clothing to people who are destitute, both homeless and without access to benefits – including refugees and migrants without recourse to public funds. That’s our bedrock.
- But we will also provide food to people on low incomes through our new foodbank and continuing social supermarket, or foodclub, partly supplied by our growing project and wider work on food issues in our town.
- To both we will offer help with training and getting new skills to improve employability
- We will offer advice, support, referall and enable access to other services – specialist health or benefits support
- We will gradually bring back our range of activities to offer education and learning, diversion, respite and therapy – art, writing, cooking, veg growing, sports and more – and open these to more people, especially those with mental health problems and isolated older people
- We will continue to offer help to people with addictions
- We will launch our first social housing, with support, of our own
- We will continue to offer work experience and training in our social enterprise
- We will continue to be a community charity, owned by, accountable to and serving the people in Northampton