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We are delighted to announce that we are well on our way to achieving our dream of establishing a hub for the homeless and vulnerably housed in Poole. 

The charity has purchased the former Hill Street Baptist Church, the Poole town centre building that housed R2R’s first drop-in sessions.

A key action over the last few years has been for R2R to get on a sound financial footing so we could explore every opportunity to find our own space in order to expand our services. We have been able to fund the purchase of the church from our own funds, a donation from Talbot Village Trust and a grant from Help the Homeless. 

Substantial refurbishment is needed to make the premises fit for purpose, before we can move in, hopefully by September 2020. R2R is seeking financial support for essential renovations, which will include more efficient heating, a kitchen, toilets, showers and laundry facilities.

After moving to Hill Street, in the short-term R2R will maintain our existing services and add a weekly Sunday lunch. Looking further ahead, as funding and volunteer support permit, we aim to be open seven days a week and increase the outreach services offered to include financial advice, training and other opportunities to help clients move back into the community – to become a one-stop place of change.

Revd Pat Southgate, Chair and Founder of R2R says: “I am really proud of what all our volunteers and supporters have enabled us to achieve over the years. This is the result of all their faith in us and is a long-held dream come true. We are very grateful to Skinner Street URC for welcoming us for so many years and making us a part of their community. While very excited, this is a tremendous commitment for the charity and we will need all the support that Poole churches, organisations, businesses and individuals can continue to give us to make Hill Street Baptist Church a real Place of Change in Poole.”

Russell Lucas-Rowe, Trustee at Talbot Village Trust, says: “We are very pleased to have helped Routes to Roots expand their reach and services. The work they have been doing helping the rough sleepers for the last 20 years is very valuable to this community. We hope that, thanks to the funding, they will be able to help many more around Poole.”

The Patron of the charity, the Rt Revd Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne comments: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Routes to Roots to take their work to another level and affirms the commitment of the charity in its aims to alleviate homelessness. Further financial help is needed now to fulfil our vision. Please consider giving generously, knowing that every gift will give hope to those most in need of it.”

 
 
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In its tenth year, R2R’s Big Breakfast for rough sleepers has moved toThe Spire community cafe on Poole High Street for the winter months of 2019-20. Deborah Clooney and Debbie Jones at The Fisherman Caféhave provided this vitally important service since 2010. The two ladies have now retired and we are grateful to them for all their support to the guys and to The Spire for stepping in. 

Last year the provision ran from November 2018 to March 2019 and was accessed by 34 individuals. 

In terms of equipping those sleeping outdoors to cope with the day ahead, this breakfast meal is absolutely vital. It is generally accepted that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it certainly makes it much more likely that the guys and girls will be in a better state to deal with appointments with various agencies such as the Job Centre, DWP, doctors, court appearances, etc.

When asked why it was important to have a cooked breakfast, one of our clients said: “Five nights out of seven there is only cold food available – it gives you one hot meal a day at least – some nights can be rough and it’s good to get camaraderie back – it does lift you after a crap night.” Another has commented that knowing he’s going to get a good meal each morning has meant he has not been thieving to get food.

Following on from the last three years, we will again confine the breakfast provision to the four days when we do not have afternoon drop-ins, to encourage more rough sleepers to engage with those who can help them at the drop-ins. This has proved to be very effective.

If you would like to support this service, please donate through the website or contact the R2R office.