Hope House, [the former Ponderosa Guest House situated on the corner of Derby Road with St Augustine’s Road] has been secured by St Thomas’ Church, Brampton to support the town’s growing Christian response towards helping homeless and other vulnerable people in the area.
The local Christian church already offers many helping services including food banks, drop-ins, soup-on-the-streets, money and other advice services, to name but a few. The addition of Hope House completes the circle in provision by the church through enabling accommodation to be provided to some of Chesterfield’s most vulnerable people.
The Rector of St Thomas’ Brampton, the Revd Canon Matthew Barnes (Chair of Hope House) said, “For 2,000 years the church has quietly answered the needs of the poor and vulnerable in our communities. As the ability of social services to meet those needs in our neighbourhood has diminished we are happy to step forward and work with all like-minded people in taking up the ever increasing slack that exists in our welfare system.”
When fully operational Hope House will provide accommodation for up to 12 clients who will either be moving out of homelessness or are vulnerable to becoming homeless. The project works closely with both statutory and voluntary housing and welfare services to ensure each resident has the best possible chance of success in the future. Pre-assessments take place prior to a client taking up residency to ensure each are suitable for housing in Hope House and that their life aspirations, together with their health and well-being needs are understood and can be supported by the emerging Christian community centred around the project. In effect Hope House offers the opportunity of a ‘half-way’ house for clients to live in a place where they can (re)gain basic life skills which will enable them to thrive in regular society.
Beth Robson-Smith, Hope House project coordinator, says, “When you get knocked over by the fast pass of society it’s often very difficult to get back up again unless someone gives you a helping hand. Especially if you’re wrestling with mental health, drug or alcohol addictions, a criminal history or broken relationships. The Hope House community seeks to be those helping hands”.
The Hope House community, which runs alongside Hope House, is a group of volunteer members who seek not just to support those who are house-less but aims to overcome homeless-ness by creating a sense of community amongst residents and a connection to the wider community. As well as offering a safe place to sleep the Hope House community offers to clients the opportunity to learn basic skills including cooking on a budget, basic budgeting & employability skills etc within a supportive living community. Encouragement and practical help is also given to clients to enable them to attend interviews and appointments, etc. Residents will be expected to abide by house rules (including a ban on all alcohol and drug use) and are invited to join in voluntary service, eating and meeting together. Hope House employs a community key worker who offers residents a friendly face, coordinates house activities and supports the community volunteers who have come alongside the project.
Dawn Cooper (Hope House community key worker), comments “A homeless person is still a person. We seek to make sure that everyone knows that they are valuable, whatever their life-story. Practical skills are important for people to have, but they’re not as important as having friends and people around who genuinely love and care for you – that’s what makes you human, that’s what helps you change your life”.
Bishop Alastair, the Bishop of Derby, commented ‘Hope and Home are the two basic words for being human. The Christian Gospel comes as Good News on both of these fronts. I am delighted that this project is being launched. A practical sign of Good News that we are all called to share.’ bishop Jan, the Bishop of Repton, added, ‘Brilliant, just brilliant!”.
Hope House comprises of a communal living area, office and counselling room, shared kitchen and 9 individual bedrooms. In addition the centre incorporates a two-person flat which will be used to help people in the final stages of preparing for independent living. The building was in an incredibly poor condition when secured by the church and extensive improvement works are planned to improve the environment for residents. A massive buildings programme is underway to return the dilapidated building back into a suitable and safe place for vulnerable people to live. Much work has already been done but still significant fundraising is still needed to complete the near £50,000 worth of work outstanding. Offers of financial help and practical support from business and individuals are very much appreciated.