S: … in Bristol, and Birmingham. The reason we have an office in Birmingham is that we realise that a lot of people come from up North and things like that to be able to get to London and [ ] as they feel there’s a lot more money based there and things like that. So, before they even get there, we’ll give them a lot of support. We’ll give them things like [ ], and things ….

JO: on the way down ….

S: and then they don’t even have to struggle really …

JO: so basically you’re accommodating and helping them … they’re choosing what they want to do but you’re helping them do that

S: we’re supporting them in a bad situation. We can’t obviously go, “this person has to have this”. We never give them money as obviously people realise if you give someone money, it gives someone an option. It’s not like we’re going, “no, you can’t have this, you can’t have that.” We realise that obviously a lot more people on the street are going to give money to a homeless person because they realise their situation. So, they can do whatever they want with that money. However, any money that goes to this will always go to something that can help them.

I was 16 when I was on the street … I lived under motorway bridges … I’ve lived on the street. I’ve lived in the Salvation Army.

JO: this is to ensure they get access to clothes, and so on …

S: exactly that. Maintenance is one of the hardest things to do when you’re on the street … is look after yourself, keep yourself clean …

JO: and you’ve just indicated you’ve got personal experience …

S: absolutely … I was 16 when I was on the street … I lived under motorway bridges … I’ve lived on the street. I’ve lived in the Salvation Army. And the Salvation Army actually changed my life around. Literally. They don’t push religion on you. Everyone thinks they do. All they are there for is you’re bettered .. to better you really. I have got myself a job now- I do telephone fundraising. I just do this in my spare time to support people. And I’ve got a private landlord. It just shows you can do it. It’s just your confidence is so low when you are on the street. It’s just really hard to push it back up there.

JO: rock bottom ….

S: exactly that. And the thing is .. when people look at you and judge you, it puts it more and more and more on you … you’re like “Am I worth it? Am I worth it?”

JO: we were just saying, even like a smile or acknowledging someone or saying “hello” makes a difference … some sort of difference …

S: absolutely … literally … that could make someone’s year .. the thing is … what we’re trying to do now is .. we’re trying to do a project where we can get 4 portable showers and a portable laundry unit because then we can go around … people can come … do their stuff and then they can go to things … because what we are also trying to provide is free suit hire and hair cuts. So, if someone goes to a job interview, they’re not being judged straight away. They can go to that interview … feel confident in their ability that they can get that job. And that’s what we’re here to do.

JO: it doesn’t sound terribly like rocket science …

S: exactly

 

 

 

 

 

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