Poole’s first building solely dedicated to helping the town’s homeless and vulnerably housed opens its doors on 21 March 2022. Genesis Centre on Hill Street is destined to become the hub for all support and help available locally from charities, churches and the local authorities – a one-stop place of change. The building is wholly owned and operated by Routes to Roots, which this month also celebrates its 20thanniversary.
The Reverend Pat Southgate, chair of R2R Trustees, spoke of her pride in all that the charity’s volunteers and supporters have been able to achieve: “This is a long-held dream come true. Twenty years ago we were able to bring rough sleepers off the streets for a hot meal for just a few hours on a couple of days a week. Now in that very same building, the old Baptist Church, we will be able to offer not only a hot meal but real life-changing support.
“We are extremely grateful to architect Ken Morgan who enabled us to secure both Listed Building Consent and Planning Application Approval in July 2020 and who has now brought us to the point of being able to open our doors. We are also thankful for the confidence shown in our vision by Talbot Village Trust, who not only provided an interest-free loan to enable us to buy the building but who have also contributed substantially to the renovation costs.”
Routes to Roots purchased the building outright in February 2020 – just in time for the country’s first lockdown. Despite this, the charity carried on with its plans for the complete restoration and refurbishment of the Grade II listed building. This was a major undertaking, which would have been impossible without the tremendous support shown both locally and nationally. Under the pro bono guidance of architect Ken Morgan, nine additional local professionals gave their time and expertise pro bono. Over the two years since the purchase, R2R received nearly £212,000 in grants from 18 foundations and trusts. At the move-in the works have cost nearly £270,000. Other money came from local businesses, churches, schools and individuals.
There is still work to be carried out on a second hall and to the outside of the building and the charity says that fundraising is continuing to pay for this. However, this does not impact its ability to run drop-ins and welcome back outreach partnersto provide addiction, mental and physical health support, chiropody, housing and benefit advice. Shower and laundry facilities are available and there are computers for clients’ use.
We were delighted to have a very special visitor in January at Genesis Centre. Routes to Roots was privileged to be one of the first stops on a visit to Poole for the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, following the announcement that morning that he will be the next Bishop of Salisbury. The Bishop Designate, who grew up in Poole, said: “It is such a privilege and a joy to be called back to the Diocese of Salisbury as Bishop. To be able to serve in the places that formed me will be something rare and special. I will enjoy visiting Dorset and Wiltshire today and look forward to meeting as many people as possible on this announcement day.” He was accompanied by our patron the Right Reverend Karen Gorman, Bishop of Sherborne.
Ben Sargent joined us at the beginning of this month in the new role of Genesis Centre Manager. Ben says: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Day Centre Manager for Routes to Roots. Having worked for many years in housing and addiction services across Bournemouth and Poole, I have always been impressed by the fantastic work that R2R do and the care shown to those in need. With the upcoming move to Genesis Centre, I am truly excited by the opportunities it will enable us to provide to those people who access our service. I look forward to creating a community where people will feel supported, feel heard and have access to the support services they require.” Among other duties, Ben will be managing our volunteer network and is very interested to hear from anyone who might have some hours to help us. In addition to the usual drop-in food preparation work, we have many new opportunities arising from our move, in such areas as office and administrative, writing and fundraising, website and social media. He can be contacted at: Ben.Sargent@routestoroots.org
We have set a date for the formal opening of Genesis Centre – 20 March 2022. This is also the 20th anniversary of the formation of the charity and so will be a double celebration. Delays with plumbing work and the knock-on effect on plastering delayed our move. We are, however, definitely on the final lap with all work to be done on the first phase financially covered. This is very much thanks to Talbot Village Trust who have agreed a further grant of £40,000. We are now seeking funding for phase 2 of the work, which will be on a second hall, which we intend as the hub for healthcare activities, possibly a winter shelter and also other activities to help our clients’ wellbeing and employment prospects.
12 days of giving was designed to support registered charities, not-for-profit organisations, and community interest companies in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man. Every weekday from the 6th to 21st December Ecclesiastical will draw 10 charities to receive £1000 each, each draw will close at midnight the day before. That’s £120,000 to 120 charities over 12 days. The more nominations Routes to Roots receives the greater our chance of winning £1000. Please support Routes to Roots: visit movementforgood.com/12days and click ‘nominate now’.
Are you looking for an opportunity where your skills will make a difference in helping to support homeless people and rebuild lives? Or are you looking to take the next step in your career? If this is the case for you then joining the Routes to Roots team will be an opportunity for you to personally develop whilst supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This is a new role, to manage the work at Routes to Roots’ new Drop In Centre, at the newly renovated Genesis Centre in Hill Street, Poole.
Download an application form and further information:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org