Ben is one of the first 10 beneficiaries employed by Labre’s Hope which will be supporting people at the end of their homelessness journey through full-time employment in hand made cosmetics.
Soaring house prices and rents have contributed to an acute homelessness problem in the UK, and in Yorkshire, nearly 200 people were sleeping rough in December 2021, while over 3000 people were living in temporary accommodation.
The project has received half a million in funding from the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund and is part-funded by South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.
Ben heard about Labre’s Hope through Crisis who were the first organisation to support him after he experienced homelessness. Ben said:
“A few years back when I finished University I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back with my family and couldn’t afford to get anywhere on my own.
“I sofa surfed for a quite a while, mostly with friends and occasionally with some extended family. Some friends who I met at university said I could come and stay with them until I got back on track, and this was a handful of weeks before the pandemic started.
“The pandemic made it even more difficult to find work and after a while they said they needed their space back, which I completely understood. This was at the same time as a job fell through and my plan was to stay in car.”
Ben’s friend suggested he contact Crisis and his lead worker alerted him to Labre’s Hope who thought the project might be a good fit.
Through a partnership with South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA), the business will provide social housing to those in need, the core element to helping people gain a sense of security where they can comfortably start their journey out of homelessness.
SYHA are also providing employment support through job coaching, including 1:1 Support with an Employment Specialist, and wellness action plans for staying well in the workplace.
Labre’s Hope is also partnering with national homeless charity, Crisis, which will offer IT training, courses in arts and crafts and health and wellbeing support.
“The opportunity is game changing. Not only is it a job which means I can keep my flat, which I’m obviously very attached to, it’s also somewhere I can go where I know I’m not going to be exploited. I’ve worked for a lot of companies, and some couldn’t care less about the people.
“It’s come at the right time where I’m managing my mental health better and it feels like the next step in the journey.”
Crisis have reported that projects such as Labre’s Hope which provide wraparound support are vitally important and have been proven to end homelessness for around 80 percent of people with high support needs.
Ben continues: “I’ve been trying to get into the charity/not-for-profit sector and it’s something I’ve got a bit of a passion for, so working for a company like this should be a bit of a springboard as it’s a hard sector to get into.
“Having a reference from a company that operates the way Labre’s Hope does is a really good way to get into that sector.”
Ben says it has been challenging to get support prior to his involvement with the Crisis and Labre’s Hope.
“It’s been practically impossible to get support. The resources either aren’t there or are so oversubscribed that you end up sitting on a waiting list for years. Some people I’ve spoken to need help yesterday and when you’re told you can’t be supported its traumatic to hear.
“Homelessness needs to be taken more seriously and budgets need to stop being cut. Its not that we can’t support people, it’s that we don’t. Money seems to be funnelled elsewhere and it disappears.
“I also think the perception towards people experiencing homelessness needs to change. People think who those who are homeless don’t want to get a job or they don’t want to be contributing. It can happen to anyone at any time due to things way out of their control.
“I’m really excited to be part of a project like this that’s so different. It’s unique. But the concept isn’t difficult, it’s about treating people like people. It’s possible for all companies to do something like this if they wanted to. You just need people who are interested in other people to be in charge.”