Charity in focus: Hull Homeless Community Project

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Published: Friday 6th January 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Run completely by volunteers, Hull Homeless Community Project aims to engage with all people and promote positive ways to help those in need. We met up with Andrew Smith, Founder and CEO, to find out a bit more about the work that they do and their plans for 2017.

Can you tell us a bit about HHCP and the work that you do?

We want to help those affected or threatened by homelessness to get out of their current situation, in a positive way. We do this by giving them support and access to the services they need.

How can people get involved with HHCP in 2017?

If they want to get in touch with us directly, they can call 07720 970085 or email info@hullhomeless.co.uk. People who want to volunteer can also contact us via our website: www.hullhomeless.co.uk.

HHCP work on quite an informal basis with our volunteers, by giving them opportunities throughout the year to be involved. We also have a small group of about seven full-time volunteers, who dedicate a lot of their time to the cause.

What have you got planned for 2017?

This year we’re focusing on how individuals and families become homeless, and the type of people that it can affect. It’s a struggle sometimes to break down the stereotypes and misconceptions that surround homelessness.

Historically, we often forget about the wide range of people that the issue has an impact on. We work with families, children, the elderly and those who are threatened by homelessness. An important part of what we do is offer advice and guidance to those facing with the prospect of becoming homeless. By helping these people before they reach a crisis point, we can hopefully prevent future problems.

It’s all well and good giving people hot food and shelter, but we need to look more in-depth at what people require to move on.

So, do you tend to stay away from the traditional soup kitchen solution?

We’ve always done a soup kitchen. However, we call it a community kitchen because we focus more on the community and social aspect of it, rather than just the food.

What is your opinion on the ‘tent city’ protests that occurred recently?

It’s something we try to stay away from as a charity. Their heart was in the right place; however, independent living is not always the best solution for people in crisis.

A lot of the people HHCP work with admit that they are not ready to live independently; they need support with their mental health, or guidance on drug and alcohol use. That’s not something you’d necessarily receive if you were given a house to live in.

Again, we want to focus on why they’re in that situation and how we can help them move forward. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple as giving someone a house.

How does HHCP offer this further support?

This year we are starting to work inside the hostels, to provide support and get people out of the cold. It’ll be a place where people can get warm, have something to eat, and also get access to support services.

We’ll be hosting social activities like arts and crafts to promote this sense of companionship and inclusion.

Our new children and family community club has similar aims. It will offer families who are in sheltered accommodation or threatened by homelessness a chance to get support. We’ve got a homework club, a toy and book library and play areas.

It’s about building confidence back up and helping individuals and families to move forward. Homelessness is a social issue and we need to help integrate people back into our society.

What sort of impact do you think Hull UK City of Culture 2017 will have on homelessness in Hull?

I think it will have a fantastically positive impact. HHCP are a City of Culture community brand this year, which is fantastic for a small charity. It means we have access to a lot more resources.

There are so many events going on this year in Hull and our aim is to involve as many of our service users as possible.

We were lucky enough to receive a lot of tickets for the In With A Bang fireworks display on New Year’s Day. Lots of our service users came along and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It’s something that they perhaps wouldn’t have attended; something that they may not have initially felt socially included in. Then there are the practical issues of no internet connection to secure a ticket.

Social inclusion is a massive thing for homeless people. Sometimes people just need help, support and a hug!

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Published: Friday 6th January 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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