One of the first recipients of our grant programme was Connection at St Martin, a charity which works with homeless people in Central London. As our three year grant cycle to them has just come to an end, we asked them to summarise the impact of our grant in a guest blog. Pip Hobby writes as follows:
The Connection at St Martin’s is a registered charity providing advice and services which help homeless people in London avoid, move away from and stay off the streets. Every year we support around 4,000 people through daily street outreach work, a drop-in Day Centre and emergency Night Centre, housing advice and referrals, training and employment support, healthcare, and specialist mental health and substance misuse provision.
We are very proud to have been among the first organisations to benefit from the support of The Progress Foundation. Roger and Nadine approached us towards the end of 2009 and challenged us to develop a project that would identify new ways to engage homeless young people.
This could not have come at a better time for our services as we had already been talking about ways in which we could get more young people to engage with education and training. The feedback from our younger service users was that the existing services on offer through our employment, training and education service Workspace were too much like ‘being back at school.’
There was no doubt in our minds therefore that what we needed to do was find a creative, informal but reliable way of positively engaging our younger service users that would also serve as a route into more formal training.
The resulting project Tbase is a weekly digital media group for young people, which has at its heart the creation of an educational website about youth homelessness (www.tbaseproject.com) and incorporates accredited training and pathways into further training and education opportunities
Through this project young homeless people accessing our centre have been able to learn a range of skills including; website design, animation, photography, film making and social media, all the while engaging with important issues such as the risks of rough sleeping and addictive behaviours, and communicating these messages to a wider audience of young people.
The group has proved a real hit with our younger service users:
“Tbase makes a load of difference to me. It’s a nice place to study – it’s more informal. Last year I made an animation, I had so much fun making it. I enjoy coming in here. I’ve just completed my certificate in digital literacy (EDCC).”
Over 70 young people have benefited from the project to date. It has proved such a success that the group has become part of our core services (the costs met through general fundraising) and we are even extending it to other hard to reach groups.
Throughout the process Roger and Nadine have been very supportive and engaged – our advice for organisations considering a partnership would be ‘go for it!’
If you are interested in our project, you can keep up to speed with latest developments through:
The Tbase blog: http://www.tbaseproject.com/blog.html
The Tbase Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/TBase.homeless?fref=ts.