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Our latest pro bono professional stonemason Sarah Klopper works at Salisbury Cathedral. As part of our Listed Building consent we are required to safeguard features of special architectural and historic interest, and Sarah will repair and relocate the memorial stones and carved stone signage currently located in the alleyway.Sarah says: “I’m looking forward to working on this project. There are so many buildings like this in the UK that are just crying out to be lovingly restored and what better way to do that than to support the homeless community.”

Work started in September and all the internal demolition is now complete: scaffolding is up; the suspended ceiling is down; the pews are out; and wiring for the lighting is in.We have received two further grants to help with our refurbishment from The Beatrice Laing Trust and JP Morgan.

Amanda Brint-Smee of Certa Services in Poole has joined our team of pro bono professionals. Amanda’s involvement in this project is to help guide the management team through the health and safety requirements under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. She will be there to ensure that the highest possible level of health and safety is provided to ensure that all workers, staff and visitors are kept safe during this development project. She will be on hand to provide documentation and advice wherever necessary. Amanda says: “The project is a very exciting one and the building that is to be used is ideally located, with the space helping to provide more help to people that are homeless or find themselves in vulnerable positions.”

Pro Bono Lighting Designer

Sherborne-based lighting designer John Bullock has offered his services free following an introduction by our architect Ken Morgan. John will not only do the lighting design for us but is also hoping to source good quality fixtures through his industry contacts and the on-line magazine he publishes for the UK lighting industry. John says: “One of the enduring fallacies that we hear constantly is ‘we’re all in this together’, when – of course – we certainly do not all experience life equally. We are NOT all in this together. Initiatives like Routes to Roots help to bridge an inequality gap that we all should be ashamed of and I’m happy to be able to provide my knowledge to the success of this project.”

Planning permission and listed building consent has been granted by BCP Council.

In July we heard that we are to receive a grant for £5000 from the Salisbury Diocesan Social Welfare Fund and two cheques arrived for £1000 from individual supporters. We are grateful for this support.

Pro Bono Surveyor

In June MC Plan and Site Services offered to do the building control for our building pro bono! Helen Cook says: “We are delighted to support your project in regards to a building control application at no cost to the charity. As a company we are very passionate about supporting local charities such as yourselves and will assign a surveyor to follow the project through from beginning to end. For us in Poole this is also something very close to our hearts, an extremely valuable cause in what your charity is trying to do for homelessness in Poole.”

Furniture and Office Equipment Donated

Albion Language Tour Company has donated office furniture and equipment including a full-size Xerox copier with scanner, folder and staple functions, 12 tables, some 40 chairs, filing cabinets and shelving. Manager Janet Wright says: “As we cannot accept our German students in the current crisis, we have given up our premises in favour of operating from home. We are happy to donate everything to your wonderful charity.”

Pro Bono Architect

Words from our pro bono architect Ken Morgan RIBA: “Thanks for inviting me to get involved with R2R in converting the Hill Street Chapel as a base/hub for Poole’s homeless community. It is an extremely worthwhile cause and one in which I have some personal interest.”

Pews to be Removed

Our new home is Grade 2 listed but in May we received permission to remove the pews, which has sparked lots of local interest. A local organist has also been in touch to ask for any parts of the old organ which he may be able to put to good use elsewhere. A request we are happy to grant.

 
 
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Following our acquisition of the former Hill Street Baptist Church, we have embarked on an extensive refurbishment programme to convert the historic building into a permanent base for the town’s homeless and vulnerably housed.  Hailed as ‘A Place for Change’, the Hill Street outreach facility is being fully renovated .

The aim of this important new outreach facility is to help people in Poole who are without permanent accommodation achieve lasting positive change in their lives. Facilities such as showers, toilets, a laundry, hot food, clothing and sleeping bags will be provided in addition to crucial access to outreach workers for addiction and mental health support, nurses, chiropodists, housing and benefit advisors.

“Thanks to some extremely generous grants and fundraising support from our volunteers, local schools, companies and churches, we have made a fantastic start towards reaching our target of £150,000, which means we are all set to start working on this exciting project,” commented Reverend Southgate. “Our first task will be to remove and sell the beautiful antique pitch pine pews to make a central space where clients can relax, feel safe and talk in confidence to outreach teams. We are hoping to raise in the region of £3000 from the sale of the pews, which would help fund the cost of installing our all-important shower facilities.” 

Routes to Roots was recently awarded a grant of £5,000 from The Haddon Trust, a charity that specialises in providing relief for those in poverty and without permanent accommodation. The grant will help fund a new kitchen and the associated white goods and equipment needed to cater for up to 50 clients. 

Local support from Poole’s residents and business community has been very positive and the charity has received full backing for the project from Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, who understands the positive impact that the hub will have both on the vulnerable people being helped and the local community. Under current plans, the Hill Street renovations are due to be completed by late Autumn 2020, subject to the ongoing restrictions imposed due to the Coronavirus crisis.

 
 
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As a trustee of Routes to Roots, I was very excited about Hill St Baptist Church but at the same time very aware of the huge needs associated with transforming the building to be a Place for Change. I wanted to do something that not only raised money but also actually got the issue into the wider community, rather than simply targeting those who were already supporters of Routes to Roots. I have always thought of Lent as not merely a time of giving up stuff but also giving away to others so I decided this was the perfect time to do some fundraising – little did I know how things were going to change.

I love a good cooked breakfast and I know others do too so I decided to offer this to others, but for donations to Routes to Roots. I set a target of around £300, which would cover the cost of a washing machine for the new building and I set aside three Saturday mornings in March to do this using the Church Centre at St James. I advertised via my own Facebook page and also set up a page for people to give electronically if they couldn’t be there in person. Lots of friends shared this and it was advertised around St James, the wider community, my sea swimming group and also the local Lifeboat Crew. With a team of helpers, we managed to serve over 30 breakfasts on the first Saturday and on the second Saturday, with people heeding the Coronavirus warnings, we were down to around 20. By the third Saturday we were closed down. However, we were overwhelmed with the support we got for these breakfasts. The total amount raised on the two Saturdays was just over £400. I was also very generously given a further £400 from personal donations towards Routes to Roots.  

Coronavirus cut us short, but when we are out of this crisis I intend to open up the Holt Café at St James again for a few more Saturdays. I was overwhelmed with the support I received: the good will towards the cause was evident. It was a simple thing to do but the results were so much more than the money in raising the profile of the new building through our local community. A huge thanks to my willing team of helpers who served, cooked and washed up.