Routes to Roots: It’s History and Aims

Routes to Roots is a Poole-based charity that exists to provide a Christian-based, personalized service to adults sleeping rough who are aimless, demotivated and lonely, and also those who are at risk of homelessness.



·        To encourage participation rather than dependency

·        To provide a place of security and warmth, where there is immediate social and spiritual support as well as the basic necessities for life: food, clothing, a place to wash and a place to rest

·        To provide opportunities that inspire creativity and alleviate boredom

·        To rebuild self-worth and self-confidence

·        To find homes for the homeless and to help maintain our clients in them

·        To inspire, encourage and equip the people of Poole to respond to the needs of homeless people with compassion, in ways that are creative and liberating

Routes to Roots became a registered charity in 2002, but Christian action on homelessness in Poole began long before that. The formal action began with one church in Poole, the ‘Vineyard’, which had the vision to meet the needs of homeless people where they are, on the streets. They set up the first soup kitchen in Vanguard Street, which is under the flyover bridge and near the train station. Gradually other churches became inspired to do the same, until eventually every night of the week members of churches from all over Poole were providing hot drinks, soup, rolls and, perhaps most important of all, a listening ear.


In 2000, R2R began to look for somewhere that it could invite the homeless into, to have a little bit of respite from their chaotic lives on the street, and a place where it could begin to meet some of their most basic needs. Thanks to Hill Street Baptist Church and, later, Skinner Street United Reformed Church who offered their premises for drops-ins, R2R became able to do just that, and as volunteers sat and talked with the rough sleepers and listened to their stories, they were no longer strangers. 


As R2R began to do more for the homeless it began to understand what their needs were and how much more it needed to do in order to meet those needs. Realising that it would need to raise money in order to meet these needs, it became a registered Charity in 2002.


As an organisation, R2R was frustrated that there was no continuity work with the rough sleepers between the drop-in sessions. In 2003, with the support of the Poole Drug Action Team, R2R was able to employ a part-time Outreach Worker to work with the rough sleepers. This first Outreach Worker collected statistics for the Drug Outreach Team and signposted the Rough Sleepers to the relevant agencies that they needed to engage with. This work proved successful and by 2005 R2R was able to raise the funds to employ a full-time Outreach Worker. This allowed R2R to develop a more proactive and assertive outreach role. Since then its work has evolved around continuing to meet the needs of the rough sleepers as it become aware of them.


In 2007, Routes to Roots began employing a part-time Administrator to support the Trustee Executive Committee and the Outreach Worker in implementing its vision. At the same time, Routes to Roots developed a concern that it is important to follow up with rough sleepers after they are housed. This led to two developments:

  • In 2008, Routes to Roots formed a partnership with Quaker Homeless Action to develop a Befriending Teams Pilot Project designed to assist those who are placed in accommodation to remain in their tenancy. 
  • In 2009, Routes to Roots formed a partnership with Bournemouth Churches Housing Association to provide a Poole Outreach and Support Team. 

In 2011 Routes to Roots employed its first, part-time,General Manager to take responsibility for the running of all its day-to-day activities as well as developing new initiatives and raising the funds to implement them.


Routes to Roots Office

Skinner Street URC, Poole BH15 1QR 

Tel: 01202 667880


Routes to Roots is supported by Big Yellow Storage, Conical Sphere Web Design & Group UK, Princecroft Willis LLP, RGL Displays Ltd and The Fisherman Café, as well as by many Church and Christian groups in Poole and the surrounding area.