WHAT DOES SANCTUS DO FOR THE HOMELESS AND VULNERABLE?
Sanctus offers a safe and warm environment where homeless and vulnerable individuals feel comfortable and open to request help.
We provide for free:
- A warm and friendly environment for those who have nowhere else to go
- Free food, drink and clothing exchange for the homeless, vulnerable and those unable to provide for themselves. In 2019 we served over 18,300 free meals.
- Free counselling, advice and advocacy to support life changes and improvement. In 2019 we completed over 1,100 sessions.
- Enrichment activities such as training courses to help returning to work, book, writing and music clubs.
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The Sanctus Support Hub
The lowdown on our new provision
The Sanctus Support Hub is an extension of the advice, practical help and advocacy that we have been successfully providing in our café space for some time. Sanctus has always offered a safe and warm environment where our homeless and vulnerable individuals feel comfortable and open to request help. With this in mind we are incredibly grateful that we have been able (with a lot of blood, sweat, tears and fundraising) to open the Sanctus Support Hub. It sits on the two storeys above our existing premises and has been renovated with the financial support of Chelmsford City Council, hands on support from Sainsbury’s of Springfield, many other donations, businesses providing labour and equipment and the fair hands of our volunteers, staff and service users. We grateful to everyone who has been involved.
We are now going from strength to strength and have grown our service provision beyond anything we would have imagined possible just a couple of years ago. The café is now not just a place of food, warmth and comfort but an access to point for those in need to access a range of support, advice and guidance and signposting to organisations and charities that we work hand in hand with.
The Hub works in two ways. A referral from our café team and on an emergency self-referral. There will always be individuals with immediate need and where possible they are seen and supported immediately by our Hub Team. All needs are assessed and support will be given or signposting to the other individuals and organisations that we work with in house will begin.
These in-house services include but are not exclusive to:
-Addiction support Groups (including STARS with Suzanne)
-Helping Hands Essex drop in sessions
-Counselling, Hypnotherapy and Reiki through consultation with our qualified in-house professional
-The National Careers Service
-Peabody (guidance and support for independent living)
-Housing Dilemmas-eviction, benefits and housing support
-Financial advice and support with debt plans
-Courses, qualifications and training opportunities relevant to our client base
-Benefits applications, appeals support and advocacy at hearings
-Sourcing a GP and attending medical and mental health appointments when required
-Supported Housing provision with Notting Hill Genesis
-Our own tenancy sustainment support programme
-Open Road Drug Recovery drop in
-Rap and Creative writing group
-Relaxation and Meditation
-Liaison with the Probation Service, Job Centre and other outside agencies to create a good working partnership and a joined-up approach to working with joint clients successfully
-Chelmsford City Council Housing Navigator. This new role is already supporting us by breaking down the barriers to getting long term street entrenched individuals housed through drop in sessions and 1:1 support
Sanctus including the Hub operates to an ethos of minimising overheads, we are a local charity and have no head office or paid executives, we heavily utilise volunteers and we ensure our limited funds are put into front line services that achieve real, tangible outcomes.
Our Recent Successes
For example, in a short period, we have been successful in housing ten individuals into supported housing with Notting Hill Genesis. We have worked closely with the Housing association and our newly housed service users to ensure that they have the best tools and support to sustain their tenancies successfully. All of those housed had either been long term street homeless or had been unable to sustain tenancies with other organisations.
We have also sourced furniture and essential household items, ensured that the correct support is given by us or others to set up all bills and rent payments and ensure that we are regularly on hand to offer ongoing support and advice to increase the chance of longevity and happiness in their new homes.
We have also been instrumental in overturning many unsuccessful PIP (Personal Independence Payment) claims and making some successful initial claims. Our service users often lack the comprehension skills, literacy or motivation and are often too distressed to contemplate making a claim or an appeal on their own. Our most recent PIP success came after a year of one individual appealing and at a tribunal with our support, guidance and evidence it was overturned and backdated 12 months.
This now means that “Brian” can afford some basics in life and also crucially can get to Sanctus for food, companionship and counselling as he wishes and not previously on the rare occasions he could afford to.
The future of The Hub
We will continue to build on the support that we have provided. We will do this by expanding the organisations, charities and community members who can help us strengthen our service provision, training our team in other areas and adding to our team with other like-minded, skilled professionals. We will continue to put maximum time and effort into supporting the homeless and vulnerable off the streets and away from volatile situations such as drinking and drug taking and other risky behaviours and into housing, work and a life worth living.
In 2019 we served over 18,300 free meals and held over 1,100 free counselling and advice sessions, we are proud to have achieved so much.
Two of the most valuable lessons that we have learnt in 2019 are the value in listening (to get the best possible picture of someone’s situation) and the importance of the tenancy sustainment programmes. It is often assumed that when someone is housed that their troubles are over but often that is where their troubles can begin to worsen, if the right support is not put in place. When they are ready, we aim to secure people a property but also support them to make that their home.
We are looking forward to the journey ahead of us and hope you can join us by supporting our work through donations, getting involved or just sharing our social media posts to increase awareness of our work. We thank you from the bottom of hearts for your support. Without you Sanctus would not be achieving what it is, and we can assure we are going to keep on feeding, listening to, supporting and fighting for the vulnerable and needy of our City.
LOOKING TO MAKE A DONATION OR FOR A UNIQUE GIFT?
Sanctus has an online shop
In today’s materialistic world we all struggle with what to buy the person who has everything! How about you buy your loved one a charity donation.
If you wish you can get, from us, a gift card detailing what the money has bought for someone far less fortunate and who is in need of help.
The vulnerable person then gets fed or trained and a foot up to maybe get them off the street.
Here is a great video of just some of our lovely clients and of the volunteers.
We want to thank you for helping us to stay open.