The High Sherriff of Dorset, GeorgeStreatfeild visited our future permanent support facility for Poole’s homeless in October.
We were delighted to play host to Dorset High Sherriff, George Streatfeild and his wife Amanda, showing them the transformation of the former Baptist Church. Mr and Mrs Streatfeild were given a tour of the building where the project’s architect Ken Mason and project manager, R2R Trustee, Kate Mellor talked through the charity’s ambitious plans for the listed building.
As reigning High Sherriff for Dorset, Mr Streatfeild was made aware of the support that Routes to Roots provides to Poole’s homeless by our Patron, The Right Reverend Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne and was eager to witness first-hand what was happening at the new facility and learn about the charity’s future ambitions.
“It is awe-inspiring and quite humbling to hear Pat’s passion and her determination to transform a rundown building into somewhere safe, warm and welcoming to so many who are struggling in today’s society – and not just because of Covid-19,” said Mr Streatfeild. “She has created an amazing team of volunteers to support her vision and make sure it happens; I cannot wait to see the completed work.”
Just over two years after completing the purchase of the old Baptist Church on Hill Street, all R2R operations will be based at our newly renovated Genesis Centre from 21st March. We are holding a celebration at the Centre on 20 March to mark our 20 years of operation as a charity and the completion of the first stages of the refurbishment. During the following week we will move ourselves and our clients across town to our new home. Our new operating hours will initially be from 12:00 am to 2:30 pm, Monday – Friday. It is our intention to open longer hours as we recruit more volunteers.
We Are With You, who provide addiction support, will attend our Drop Ins on both Mondays and Thursdays between 1:00 pm and 2:00pm. Chiropody appointments will be offered by Jenny Fowler from Friday 25th March and occur on a monthly basis. In the near future, we will also regularly be joined by partners from St Mungo’s, Victim Support and both Mental and Physical Health Support services.
In May 2021 The Clothworkers’ Foundation confirmed that they have awarded us a grant of £35,000 towards the completion of the phase 1 work, which will allow our move-in. The Foundation was set up in 1977 to be the primary vehicle of charitable giving for The Clothworkers’ Company. Since then, they have awarded capital grants of more than £152 million. Today, their primary aim is to improve the lives of people and communities, particularly those facing disadvantage, deprivation and/or discrimination.
Build-up starts. After all the internal demolition, we have reached the stage of reconfiguring the internal layout. The scaffolding has been taken down and ceiling and lights finished with one more stained glass window to be re-installed. We have decided on an air source heat pump to provide underfloor heating and gas-fired boiler for hot water and are in the process of selecting contractors.
Clients will get online at Hill Street. Andy and Sara Powell at Poole IT are generously donating our IT equipment for free. They will also set up our broadband, wifi, telephone and internet café for clients, and give us on-going support. This new service will be a game-changer for our clients’ employment prospects and we are very grateful to them. Andy says: “Routes to Roots is an amazing opportunity for local business to give support at the very heart of community, We all see people in less fortunate positions that ourselves; therefore to help in a meaningful way by applying our professional skills is the least we can do. Having computers with safeguarding installed, and a safe internet connection will help connect the people in need with resources only available online.”
Geoffrey Morgan, a local organist and Organs Adviser to the United Reformed Church, contacted us to express interest in salvaging some of the pipework and electric blower from the Hill Street organ for use in other organs. We were delighted to accommodate his request, since the organ had been unusable for many years following a fire. Geoffrey also informed us that the organ case dates from the nineteenth century, had previously been installed in the former St. Paul’s Church in Poole, and hence is of historic interest to the Borough of Poole. Geoffrey offered his time to help with the dismantling of the organ and cleaned the console and brass plaque – we could not have managed such a successful dismantling without his help. We are keeping the front of the organ case, which is now at the back of the organ loft, fixed to the wall, so it can be appreciated by everyone who visits the building.
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.
Routes to Roots featured on the second round of the Aviva Community Fund’s 20202 crowdfunding programme for small charities. We raised £3,000 towards the refurbishment of our Hill Street building.
The Aviva Community Fund supports small charities with forward-thinking ideas across the UK with funding, vital support and resources.
As part of its funding support, Aviva is allocating every single one of its 16,000 UK employees an ‘Employee wallet’ of £60, to be split across each quarter of the programme. Aviva employees can donate their allocation of funds to the participating causes that matter most to them and this is added to funds raised externally on the Crowdfunder platform.
Jude Brooks, UK Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Aviva, said: “We know that even the smallest charities can have a massive impact in building stronger communities. We are extremely proud to support Routes to Roots and look forward to enabling them to bring their idea to life.”