our service users
Who uses our services?
Hope’s services span charity and social enterprise, and the people who use our services vary. We help anyone in need in our community, who are poor and isolated.
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 who come to the day centre 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 on people’s floors, on sofas, or on beds in cupboards. For some people this can last for years. At any one time, there are anywhere up to 400 people like this in Northampton, and many come to Hope’s day centre 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…..
Some people come along to groups in the day centre who don’t have any housing problems at the moment, but benefit from activities and therapeutic support for issues like mental health or addiction.
Our other service users
People who access our training and support to get employment may attend our day centre, but they may also be 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. They are not all homeless.
Our gardening project is open to anyone who will benefit from being in the open air: older people, disbaled, people with mental health or addiction problems, people with learning disabilities.
Some of our volunteering opportunities are valuable to a wide range of people with social needs, who seek company, or something to do.
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