Have you ever considered volunteering for us? We need kitchen staff in our current location on Skinner Street and would also love off-site support on various aspects of publicity and fundraising, such as the website, social media, design and grant applications. We will also need many more volunteers for different types of on-site support when we open Genesis Centre. If you would like to leave your contact details with us now, with an idea of how you could help, then we can contact you later in the year when we start to plan our opening and the activities we will offer. Please email our office on: email@example.com
We are continuing to run indoor drop-ins on weekday lunchtimes and are seeing anything from 8 to 16 clients each day. In June EDAS (Essential Drugs and Alcohol Services) re-started their outreach operation with us and we are looking forward to the re-start of more services in the coming weeks. St Mungo’s reports that they have 184 people in emergency accommodation in the BCP area and that thankfully the Council has no plans to end this provision. During this current crisis they have been able to move literally hundreds into long-term accommodation.
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.
From Wednesday 1 July R2R will re-open its drop-ins at Skinner Street URC to offer take-away food for rough sleepers only. With the Council’s emergency accommodation provision coming to an end and more rough sleepers being found on the streets, we believe re-starting this provision is vital. We plan to open between 1.30pm and 2.30pm every weekday. At this stage, we cannot allow clients inside the hall, in line with current rules governing cafes, so the toilets and shower will remain closed.
Routes to Roots is pleased to let you know that BCP Council’s rough sleeper outreach team, St Mungo’s, has sourced temporary accommodation for Poole’s rough sleepers. Food will be provided, along with medical support and three times daily contact from a BCPSOS worker to check on wellbeing, etc. With effect from Wednesday 25 March, R2R will, therefore, temporarily close our drop-ins. We are confident that our clients will be in good hands over this period and this is the safest way forward for all of us.
A big thank you to our two staff members and all our many volunteers for making it possible to go on providing food for so long. We will not be idle but take this time to continue work on our project to renovate our new building on Hill Street, so that at the end of all this we will have our Place for Change for the Homeless in Poole.
Routes to Roots will keep its five drop-ins open to help rough sleepers for as long as is possible. In order to prioritise the help that we can offer, we will be open only to rough sleepers from Friday 20th March onwards. We realise this may leave those of our clients who are vulnerably housed, although not on the streets, at a disadvantage but with the potential of fewer volunteers available, this was a compromise that had to be made.
With immediate effect, lunchtime drop-in hours will be from 12.30pm until 2.30pm – subject to review depending upon volunteers and national and local guidance. Clients will be able to eat in the hall as normal. Showers will still be available while the launderette is open to wash the towels.
From Friday 20th March, evening drop-ins will provide takeaway food only, although the toilets will be available.
The exact procedure to follow if a client appears to be showing symptoms of COVID-19 is still being finalised across the local authority area. BCP Council has made a property available for rough sleepers who are affected by the virus.
We provide rough sleepers with vouchers to enable them to have breakfast at The Spire community café on Poole High Street. The café states that it will remain open as long as possible and we are giving out extra breakfast vouchers and will continue this provision beyond April – as long as the Spire can provide the breakfast.
R2R is part of an online meetings group of relevant agencies, including Faithworks, BCP Council, St. Mungo’s, to ensure we keep abreast of all developments.
Routes to Roots is extremely sorry to cancel our planned open afternoon on 15 March to celebrate our acquisition of the former Hill Street Baptist Church. In light of the highly infectious nature of Coronavirus and anticipated advice to avoid large gatherings, we believe we must play our part by not holding an event, which may, however minimal the risk, help spread the virus. In particular, we are concerned about our clients, the homeless and formerly homeless, who are particularly vulnerable members of our community but also take this step to protect our volunteers, supporters and their families.
We will keep a close eye on the situation and re-schedule as soon as we can.
And now the good news: We are pressing ahead, with the help of a pro bono local architect, with building plans and estimates, and busily seeking grants and donations to fund the work which will make the building fit for purpose. We are extremely appreciative of the support we have so far received, which means we can make a start, but there’s still a long way to go and all contributions will be gratefully received. We still hope that we can move into the building this Autumn in time for winter. This WILL become the centre for all help for the homeless and vulnerably housed in Poole.
If you would like to look round the building as an individual or talk to us about our plans, we would love to hear from you. We want everyone to keep on talking about this great new development.
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.
The Clean Machine, a mobile laundry service based in Bournemouth, now attends our Wednesday afternoon drop-ins to allow the guys to get their clothing and sleeping bags washed and dried.
Poole Council granted gold status for housing to our three tenants, which is the highest priority rating. Following this, the original three tenants have now moved out into independent accommodation in August, September and December 2018. Their replacements, rough sleepers, have moved in and one has been able to take on full time employment. We are grateful to Poole Council Housing team for all their support and look forward to continued progress with getting further rough sleepers into Amos House and then on to their own homes.