Creative Hope... where food was needed: Cook Bags & Recipe in a Bags
We gave out huge amounts of crisis food to so many people... of course through our four Food Banks (and satellites), but also working with the Council we supported the hundreds who moved into temporary accommodation. We also gave out over 200 one-pot cookers so that those without access to a kitchen could become food resilient.
There's more... we also worked with The Friendly Food Club to give out bags containing ingredients to make a healthy meal, with instructions and a video on how to do it: it was so encouraging to see families sharing their joint efforts on social media, and loving the activity at the same time.
In all we gave out 2,776 Cook Bags and Recipe in a Bags!
Creative Hope... where advice was needed:
It’s great to be practical, but we believe that people recover more strongly from crisis when they have people “walking alongside” them rather than being given another phone number to call.
During the pandemic our Food Banks have been changing shape, establishing a whole range of help available right there onsite – “Jimmy’s” opened in the centre of Poole, Blandford Food Bank+ moved to a new multi-purpose centre, and Christchurch Food Bank+ is refurbishing this summer.
In all cases, one of those extra services is our Community Money Advice (CMA) team – they helped people reduce their debt by over £80k this year. Over the last few months we have also been gearing up for an increase in demand in 2021/22 as the country starts to recover and schemes such as furlough come to an end.
Creative Hope... when feeling overwhelmed:
Addiction recovery is even harder when you can’t meet up with people or you lose your routine. So as lockdown arrived, our Faithworks Recovery team created a new Facebook group with events, talks, tips and help three times a day, every day for the first lockdown.
And although it sounds really simple, putting on a regular Recovery walk at the beach as soon as lockdown finished, became hugely important for many. With the addition of our Recovery Day each week, and a Recovery Course running in at least one church every week, we are heading towards our goal of facilitating a purposeful recovery-focused activity every day.
32 people joined our Recovery walks – and nearly 700 followed our Revive Recovery UK Community Facebook resources.
Creative Hope... when feeling shut in:
We were so glad that over 400 people during the year were helped into temporary accommodation. But boredom can start to eat away at people’s hope making it harder for them to maintain their accommodation.
This is where the FW Homelessness team looked to give purpose to those in this temporary accommodation: we provided practical help such as a laundry facility, and we also developed Staysafe with a local church, providing a safe place for friendship, activity and purpose 3 days per week: one day it might be sorting out Universal Credit for someone, another day it might be cooking together, or even putting up the church’s Christmas decorations.
28 individuals stayed off the street by coming to Staysafe; and the first 2 tenants came into our first move-on house.
Creative Hope... when feeling alone:
Imagine what it is like to try to go shopping as a lone parent in the pandemic when we’re supposed to go alone – who looks after your children? These real life challenges led to a doubling of families involved with our SMILE project.
The Facebook community became hugely important in sharing tips and encouragement; volunteers dropping off craft packs gave families things to do together; but the real joy came as lockdown eased and families could go out on adventures together, knowing that people there understood what it had been like – 3 hours trying paddle-boarding kept people resilient for weeks.
Creative Hope... when it feels your purpose has gone:
Once lockdown ended, we could start to make our dream of helping people into work, a reality. We expanded the opportunities for those in temporary accommodation by re-opening the carpentry workshop to make unique wooden products for the online Doorstop Shop; we created a “Seed Team” who learned basic gardening skills while making the gardens of older local people safe; and we backed it all with skills for life training such as budgeting and health & safety.
Meanwhile, a local businessman started to advise Poole Food Bank clients on how to turn their skills into business startups – what better way to ensure that people never go back to crisis than helping them towards work.
2 ex-homeless trainees got into employment; and nearly 40 older people and carers had safer gardens.
Thank you to:
Over 220 super-adaptable Volunteers… and many others who cheered us on while they had to isolate.
Wise and generous Funders of all sizes… whether grant making bodies, or an individual who gave for the first time.
Partners, both old and new - especially those who allow us to use their venues… And we love playing our part in the new Homelessness and Access to Food partnerships in BCP.
Local churches and Christians who prayed with us… “God is our strength, an ever-present help in trouble”.
None of us will ever forget this last year. Our hope here at Faithworks is that all of us will remember those moments where light shone through, and individuals saw that there was a way forward.
You can find lots of these “Creative Hope” stories in the detailed reports on our projects here.
As we look forward, we are structuring our work similar to a set of traffic lights:
- Red - the person is in immediate crisis and needs help with essential things such as food, debt advice or furniture.
- Amber - the person is moving away from crisis, or needs more general support. For example: contacting our helpline for someone to talk to or to receive advice; find a safe place to think and grow; and to have others come alongside to help individuals form and start on their own plans.
- Green - Work towards a longer term sustainable solution meaning they don't go back to crisis. This is pressing "go" with skills for life and employment, and helping people to find purpose and resilience.
We look forward to working alongside you again in the coming year.
Alistair Doxat-Purser, CEO, and the Faithworks' Team