“If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness.” Isaiah 58:10
In 2012 Routes to Roots celebrates its 10th anniversary as a Christian Charity in Poole. Throughout that time it has aimed to remember that the Homeless in Poole are children of God and what it does for them, it does for Him who has called them to continue the ministry that He first started.
Founded on Christian principles, and registered as a charity in 2002, Routes to Roots seeks to help all homeless people in Poole regardless of their faith. They hold drop-in sessions to provide immediate social and spiritual support as well as the basic necessities for life: food, clothing, a place to wash and a place to rest. They help to house rough sleepers and follow up to identify what each person needs to move forward and to maintain their housing and independent living.
R2R volunteers do a great job to help those who find it hard to help themselves, to raise funds and to spread awareness of homeless issues. Anyone who has time and enthusiasm would be welcome to join them.
Since 2003, with the support of the Poole Drug Action Team, Routes to Roots has employed an Outreach Worker to provide continuity work with rough sleepers between drop-in sessions. The Outreach Worker collects statistics for the Drug Outreach Team and signposts the rough sleepers to the agencies that they need to engage with. This work proved successful and since then its work has evolved around continuing to meet the needs of rough sleepers as it becomes aware of them. At the beginning of May 2012 there were 15 rough sleepers in Poole, many of them young people. Early risers are needed to accompany the Outreach Worker from 6.00am to 8.00am.
Drop-in afternoons provide an opportunity for creative projects, guidance, and support. They aim to help the participants move on from meeting their most basic needs to returning to ‘normal’ society. Hot food and hot and cold drinks are provided, with packed lunches for those sleeping rough. As funding has been available, various activities have been offered, such as cooking, pottery, sewing, papier-mâché, painting, sports and quizzes. These activities have real value and Routes to Roots would like to expand the number of days and range of activities on offer to help its clients reintegrate into society.
In order to develop the motivational activities they can offer, they need people with relevant skills such as Art and Craft, Photography, IT, literacy and numeracy, to name but a few.
Every evening 15 people, on average, go to the Drop-Ins run by Routes to Roots and the Soup-Runs organised by the churches in Poole for food and drink. The numbers can be as high as 30 and there are some individuals in need who go throughout the week for their food and sometimes clothing and toiletries.
“I meet new people at the drop-ins and it gives me something to do,” says one client. “I am currently unemployed but I complete volunteer work, and on the days I am not volunteering it keeps me occupied and stops me being bored stiff. It is good to meet new people; there is a good atmosphere. I meet people whose situation is a lot worse than mine. It makes me realise I am lucky.”
The drop-in sessions are held on Tuesdays at Hill Street Baptist Church and on Fridays at Skinner Street United Reform Church. They urgently need volunteers to help from 7.00pm to 9.00pm. The volunteers help set up the room, cook, serve food and drink, help wash-up and/or talk with clients – whatever you would like to do. If you could help out even just once a month, you would be very welcome.
R2R and Quaker Homeless Action set up a two-year pilot project in February 2009 to assist those who are placed in accommodation to remain in their tenancy by giving them individual befriending support to become more rooted in the local community. Following the success of the pilot project, R2R launched its own Befriending Project in Autumn 2011 based on teams of three/four volunteer Befrienders and one client Befriendee working together. To continue this work, R2R needs to recruit more Befrienders. These are people who can offer a couple of hours a week/fortnight to be alongside a client in a way which is relevant to that client: it may be a social outing or it may mean being prepared to accompany the client to various appointments which the client doesn’t feel confident to do alone. Befrienders will always work in twos and have training and supervision.
Please contact the R2R Administrator for a Volunteer Application Form or download it from the R2R website: www.routestoroots.org/updates/volunteering-membership
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.