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Clark’s Story

2020 April 1 by

When the team at our specialist supported housing unit for people with Autism and Asperger’s first met Clark, his situation was complex.

He was living between a relatives sofa and a shed, he had not managed to secure any employment and was struggling to manage.  

On moving into the supported housing, our staff set up three main aims for him to work on during his time at Henrietta Street: 

1. To have a safe environment to live, where he could settle down and not keep having to move when things got stressful. 

2. To get a proper job, preferably as a car mechanic which he had qualifications in. 

3. To find a way to pass the driver theory so that he could pass his driving test – he had taken this several times unsuccessfully. 

On top of this they included independent living skills, building self-confidence and managing finances. 

Clark began by accessing the West of England Works (WOEW) team and completed some of their courses, he then completed the bike workshops Build-a-Bike scheme and started volunteering at Wheels for All where he worked with others to maintain bikes specially designed for disabled cyclists. 

The WEOW team and support staff at Henrietta street helped Clark secure an interview at a local garage which lead to a trial week and then an apprenticeship. 

Clark worked hard and the garage where happy to work with the support staff to offer him a full time job, he is now a fully integrated member of the team and the owners treat him like family. 

His employers commented: 

“He is polite, considerate and is very much one of the team. He is always willing to put in more than is expected and his confidence is building so am sure he will continue to do well.” 

His stable living conditions also gave Clark the time and headspace to study for his theory driving test which he then past on his first attempt. 

He is now getting ready to move out of Henrietta Street into his own accommodation, where he will start his practical driving lessons, he also now has friends in the house and an active social life. 

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A volunteer story

2019 June 7 by

Many of the clients we support face daily struggles with their mental health. Our staff are well trained and experienced to ensure we are meeting clients’ immediate needs and working with other specialist services to ensure the client has access to as many support options as possible. 

Julian House provides a high support housing project in Bath, with 10 beds for adults with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (Autism and Asperger’s). The project has a dedicated support team whose work is backed by a small team of dedicated volunteers. We spoke to Abby, who has been volunteering at the project in Henrietta Street for many years about what an average session includes. 

What does the average volunteering session at Henrietta Street involve?

When I get there I greet the residents, chat to the staff and find out what the meal is and how many people are eating. Then I cook the dinner, sometimes helped by one of the residents. A few examples of the meals I cook are: chicken korma, roast dinner and tuna pasta bake. During cooking I usually chat to a few of the more talkative residents which I really enjoy. After dishing up I wash and clear up. 

How long have you volunteered at HS and how often?

I have volunteered at Henrietta Street for about 3 years, once a week on a Tuesday.

What motivated you to start volunteering specifically at Henrietta Street?

Growing up near London, I often saw people on the streets and felt incredibly sad. I wished I could do something to help. When I moved to Bath I heard a lot about the fantastic work that Julian house did and knew I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve worked in education for years and am passionate about supporting children with special needs. I sometimes worry about the children we support lacking that support in adulthood so the idea of volunteering at a place specifically supporting adults with autism really appealed to me.

What do you find most rewarding?

Chatting to the residents while I cook- they all have different passions and interests and I feel I learn something new every week whether it’s about football, politics, airsoft or film! I really enjoy getting to know them and it’s lovely when they get involved with the cooking.

How do you find the time whilst working full-time?

It’s definitely a challenge! I have to be very quick leaving work to not get stuck in traffic. The staff there are really supportive and know I run a little late sometimes but will get everything ready and sometimes pre cook anything that will take longer. Although it can be stressful, I love that one day a week I leave work early and go and do something completely different that helps other people and makes a difference.

If you are interested in volunteering we have loads of roles available, take a look here.

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Bike Workshop Support

2019 June 6 by

Bike Bank is a collaborative project between Exeter Community Initiative and Julian House based in the Exeter Bike Workshop. Bike Bank aims to increase skills and opportunities for meaningful activity through a sheltered workshop and at the same time to recycle bikes and increase the supply of affordable bikes to those who can’t readily afford to buy one.

John heard about Bike Bank through his support worker who knew of his interest in bikes and arranged for John to meet with the Bike Bank team leader to find out more information. Following the meeting John was keen to join the scheme and before he started he talked to the project worker and discussed how best to support him with managing his anxiety during the course. The outcome was to arrange for there to be a quiet area in the workshop should he need to take some time out. John started the following week.

During his training John said “I have really appreciated that there is someone there watching, teaching me and helping to build my confidence. There is no time pressure and that it is ‘OK’ if I make mistake as a part of learning these new skills”

When asked about the course John said he felt that the course had a positive impact on his mental health, wellbeing and his self-esteem. He liked the routine it provided and something practical for him to focus on to help break up his day. John feels it has also benefitted him socially by talking and interacting with others in the workshop.

John completed the 6 week course and extended to 12 weeks. After successfully completing the course John went on to volunteer in the Bike Workshop and has now moved on into employment.

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Life as an Outreach Worker

2019 June 6 by

From its foundation over 30 years ago, Julian House has been striving to support and enable rough sleepers to move off the streets. For many, contact with Julian House is just the first step on a long road to recovery from homelessness. A dedicated team of outreach workers work with rough sleepers, gaining trust and helping them access vital services, including the emergency hostel in Manvers Street.

What’s the point of outreach and how often do you do it? 

There are many reasons why we provide outreach to rough sleepers. It is important that we are able to identify rough sleepers in the area as quickly as possible so that we can start supporting them with their housing and other support needs. However, rough sleeping also poses massive risks. Our clients are vulnerable to being attacked, the weather conditions, poor emotional/physical health and the negative impact of substance misuse. We have a duty to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society and need to ensure that they have survived the night without a significant decline to their welfare.  

Our outreach team conduct both planned and unplanned outreach sessions. We go out a minimum of four mornings a week, one evening, and one lunchtime; three of these sessions are attended by a member of staff from Developing Health and Independence who can support clients into drug and alcohol services and on a Friday we are joined by a Nurse from the Homeless Healthcare Team who are part of the Heart of Bath Partnership. We also have a mental health outreach worker who is employed by Avon and Wiltshire Partnership (AWP). Patrick is able to provide specialist mental health support to our clients and provides a vital link between the homeless community and mental health services. 

Can you describe an average morning as an outreach worker?  

We arrive at the hostel at 6.30am to make flasks of strong, sugary coffee (it is a favourite amongst our clients) and get some snacks together. We then head out into the city to locate as many people as possible. If we have received a report from the public and there is a rough sleeper in a certain location, we will follow this up. These reports come directly to the team via a website called Street Link. We have regular spots we will visit that we know are popular with rough sleepers, such as car parks, parks, and certain shop doorways. Once we meet someone, we wake them up as gently as possible, introduce ourselves and offer them a drink and something to eat. Sometimes people want to speak to us, and other times they might just like a coffee and to be left alone. We are very much guided by our clients, as it takes time to build up trust (and not everyone is a morning person!). If someone wants to talk, we will stay with them and talk about how they are coping, housing, their hopes and options for the future, any support they might need, or appointments we may need to make or attend with them. Twice a week, DHI offers a mobile needle exchange, which can also open up conversations about any drug related injuries, harm minimisation, and access to services. 

What do you do if someone doesn’t want to engage with you?  

We understand that sometimes people don’t want to engage with us but we still want to make sure that they are OK and will always continue to visit. Some people are very fearful and mistrusting, so it is important that we are consistent. We will always leave them with a coffee and something to eat, and continue to explain who we are, and what we do. Generally speaking, most people do eventually speak to us and then we can start getting to know them and support them at a pace that they are comfortable with and is more likely to mean a move away from the streets. 

What are the obstacles you face when doing outreach?  

We never know exactly what we are going to encounter on our outreach sessions. Sometimes we are talking with clients who have experienced significant trauma and need to share their thoughts and feelings immediately. There is no privacy on the street and breaking down in public can attract a lot of attention from passers-by. We will always work to protect our clients and try to go with them to a more private space so that they can talk things through. There are times when we can encounter some hostility from our clients as they mistrust our intentions and want to be left alone. This can happen for a range of reasons and it is important that we know when to back off to ensure the safety of the clients and ourselves. We are very fortunate that we have some very good services in BANES but, even with this in mind, supporting our clients from rough sleeping and into accommodation can take a very long time. In the current climate, services – in particular housing – is limited and the demand is high; this is one of the biggest obstacles we face. 

What do you think are the main misconceptions around rough sleeping?  

That people choose to live on the streets. I have worked in homelessness for well over a decade and I have never met anyone who chose to sleep rough. Some of the people we work with have experienced some of the most horrific things life has to offer. Many became homeless when they were young and have not had opportunities to recover from trauma and learn to live in independent accommodation. Some just lose hope altogether and believe that they will never get into accommodation or dare not to take the leap into housing because they are so fearful that it will go wrong and they would have failed – yet again. We also hear from people who believe that all rough sleepers are drug users or alcoholics. This is not the case at all. Rough sleepers come from all walks of life and we have seen how it could happen to anyone. There is a statistic that says something like, we are all only two pay cheques away from homelessness. I think this is true in a lot of cases. 

Can you describe the impact of your outreach work. Why is it so important? 

We provide a crucial link for rough sleepers to access support and accommodation. We do not expect people to come to us, we will go to them and we are guided by them and what they need. Many rough sleepers feel completely invisible so to approach someone, sit with them, and work out what they want and how best we can help is a really powerful thing. Outreach work is so important because it saves lives and it supports people away from something that can be incredibly harmful and dangerous. It gives hope for the future and it supports the underlying value that we should not have anyone sleeping out on our streets. 

Can you give me a specific example of someone you’ve helped in the past. What are they doing now?  

Last week, whilst at the back of the hostel, a car pulled up and the chap inside said hello to me. It turned out to be an ex client. He was homeless in Bath, sleeping in his car. He was supported to access support for his alcohol use and referred into Julian House supported housing. He moved into one of our projects and was quite challenging due to his alcohol use and trying to come to terms with previous trauma he had experienced. We did a lot of work with him and eventually broached the idea of rehab. He was a little reluctant but got the funding and went to a residential rehabilitation centre. He detoxed from alcohol and subutex, engaged with the programme they offered and has now been abstinent for 4 years. He has continued to live in the area he went to rehab in and has developed a keen interest in hiking. Since becoming abstinent he has been hiking on mountains in Turkey, Slovenia, Belgium, Holland, and Vietnam. He is trekking the Himalayas in a couple of weeks. He has also completed an Access course and plans to go to university in September to complete a degree in Construction Management. He is very thankful to Julian House for the support he received, although I did remind him that he did all the hard work! It was amazing to see how his life has completely transformed and he looked so happy. 

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Volunteer Celebration Evening

2019 May 29 by

On Monday 20th May we hosted our annual Volunteer Celebration Evening in Bath to thank all of our volunteers for their amazing support over the years. 

We have over 340 volunteers across the organisation in a variety of roles that support the day to day running of projects, help us raise funds and give some of our clients important social contact. We are deeply grateful to all of our fantastic volunteers! Together we are effecting real change and Julian House wouldn’t be able to run without their support. 

From those that work in our hostel, our supported accommodation services and outreach teams, to those in our bike workshops, charity shops, admin and fundraising teams, we want to say a big thank you for your dedication, time and support.  

The evening was kindly hosted by Boston Tea Party on Alfred Street in Bath, who also supplied a finger buffet for our volunteers and guests to enjoy. After an introduction from Natalie (our Volunteer Coordinator), Joy Saunders (Chair of Trustees) spoke about the impact our volunteers make to the organisation, before Amanda Movsesian (Team Leader of our Domestic Abuse Services) gave an update on our services and spoke about how we support women, children and men escaping domestic abuse. 

The evening then continued with some fantastic live music from The ÆTHER, Douglas Joshua and Tallis Morris, who all donated their time for free, kindly organised by Max from the Bath Music Collective. Guests were also treated to live magic performances and demonstrations from local magician Mentazmo.

Thank you to everyone who came to the evening and thank you again for your continued support, help and time. It’s truly appreciated. 

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Why Climb Kilimanjaro for Julian House?

2019 May 28 by

From 7th-15th February 2020 a group of 12 individuals will be climbing the tallest free-standing mountain in the world to raise vital funds and awareness for Julian House and the people it supports. 

Kilimanjaro is no mean feat and while the challenge will require determination, stamina and team work, it’s a challenge that will not only change your life but also the life of someone within our care.

By climbing Kilimanjaro you’ll not only be raising an incredible amount of money for Julian House, but you’ll also be standing up and taking action against homelessness.

Unless you’ve been homeless it’s hard to image what it’s like. But we can tell you what homelessness isn’t. It isn’t prejudice, it isn’t decreasing, it isn’t the result of one single problem and it doesn’t go away when you walk past it. At Julian House, our projects and services not only address the symptoms of homelessness but also the underlying reasons why men and women are forced on to the streets and seek to find solutions to empower and help people build sustainable, independent lives. Whether that be through supporting people into their own accommodation, learning new skills, returning to college, volunteering or finding employment. All of the money raised during this challenge will go towards helping a person build a safer, happier, more fulfilled life.

Quick Itinerary

  • Return flights to and from Bristol
  • Stay in the Marangu Hotel, when not on expedition. This beautifully situated hotel, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, stands in twelve acres of lush gardens with a swimming pool and croquet lawn.
  • 5 day trek to the top of Kilimanjaro (ascend in 4 days, 1 day descent.)
  •  Participants only carry a small day sack/rucksack. Majority of kit carried by  porters.

Top challenge highlights:

  • Accomplish one of the greatest challenges of all time by ascending the world’s highest freestanding mountain.
  • Camp under the stars while on expedition. 
  • Watch the sunrise as you reach the Crater’s Rim.
  • Explore some of the most varied landscapes on earth, from montane forests, to high altitude deserts.
  • Meet and be-friend mutual supporters of Julian House.
  • Experience traditional Tanzanian culture and cuisine. 

How can I take part?

For more information and to sign up click here.

We ask for a registration fee of £400 to secure your place and a guarantee you can raise a minimum sponsorship target of £3,500. All travel, accommodation and the majority of meals are included within this challenge cost.  The only items not covered are a Tanzania visa (£40), travel insurance, tips for guides, drinks and other items of a personal nature. 

While £3,500 may seem a daunting figure, we’ve created a really comprehensive fundraising guide that gives you a step by step guide to help you raise the funds. I’m also on hand every step of the way to help you achieve your target. Just drop me an email or give me a call on / 07939055432

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Broadcaster to Host 20th Anniversary Quiz

2019 May 27 by

Writer, broadcaster and Daily Mail columnist, Bel Mooney will be the official quiz mistress at the annual Julian House Brain of Bath quiz. Popular amongst corporates, this year’s fundraising event will take place on Thursday 4th July from 7pm in Bath’s prestigious Assembly Rooms.

Up to 25 company teams will go head to head and compete for the coveted Brain of Bath 2019 title. Now in its 20th anniversary year, the organisers are hoping the event’s fun, yet competitive spirit will carry on under the watchful eye of Bel Mooney.

Cecil Weir has been organising the event since 2001 and is delighted that the busy writer and broadcaster was able to support the event “Although by their very nature quizzes are competitive one of the great things about the Brain Bath is that the teams participate in a fun and light-hearted way. The number one goal of the evening is to raise funds towards the work of Julian House but along the way there’s no rule that says you can’t enjoy yourself at the same time. I’m sure Bel will help us to achieve that and perhaps share some snippets from an amazing career. Indeed, her first job in journalism was at the Bath Chronicle!”

“Such events are vital to an organisation like Julian House. Homelessness is not a fashionable cause and we have to work very hard for a disproportionate amount of our income. However, once we have an opportunity to involve companies in our work and dispel some of the myths attached to homelessness, gaining further advocacy is not normally an issue.”

The event will once again be sponsored by long time Julian House supporter, Deloitte. A light supper will also be served by renowned caterers Searcys and contestants will have the opportunity to bid for a carefully selected range of auction prizes in the mid-point break – including a highly desired Mulberry Bag.

You can find out more and sign up to The Brain of Bath here.

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Tenancy Scheme success

2019 May 23 by

Barnaby grew up in Scotland where he did well at school and played football for his hometown team. At the age of 14 he became involved in a local gang and was expelled. He moved to an approved school where he started selling drugs. When Barnaby was 20 his dad died of a heart attack which really shook him. Barnaby was ‘controlling’ a housing estate through acts of violence, his best friend was murdered by a rival gang.

At the age of 52, Barnaby tells me that it is a miracle he is still alive: “I never thought I would live this long. People told me I’d never see 30.” He has spent most of his adult life in and out of prison and has served over 20 years in total. He first went to prison at 16 and he was 51 when he was last released from prison. “I was involved in crime and the criminal justice system for 37 years.” Now, Barnaby has completely turned his back on his past; even if he wanted to return to that lifestyle, he knows he is too old for it.

Barnaby describes his situation before he was accepted onto the Tenancy Ready Scheme as “hopelessness and despair.” He was living in a tiny private rented bedsit in Exeter. This was so small that it did not have room for a bed, and he had to stand his mattress against the wall to have any floor space during the day; “it was suffocating”. He felt very depressed to the point where he was contemplating suicide. It was as if he was back in a prison cell: “I felt like I’d been given a prison sentence and the walls were closing in on me.” The poor living conditions were also detrimental to his physical health and he was forced to stop his voluntary work.

Because of the seriousness of his situation, we moved Barnaby into one of BCHA’s second stage supported housing projects. He is now living in a shared house and his bedroom is nearly three times as big as his bedsit. There has been an almost immediate difference: he is feeling much happier now and has started volunteering again. “I’ve only moved about 100 yards, but it feels like I’ve moved 100 miles mentally. It’s like I’ve gone from minus half a star to five stars!” He has also started as a peer mentor for a charity that support people who are over 50 when they are released from prison. He believes that this move prevented him from returning to his previous lifestyle. He was planning on returning to Scotland and is certain that because of his reputation, would have either have ended up back in prison or been killed.

The story doesn’t end here for Barnaby. He is much happier now and appreciates the support where he is living, but there is still a feeling of being institutionalised because he has lived most of his life in ‘the system’. The next step will be moving him into a social housing flat. He can’t wait to “be able to walk out of my own front door”. He feels this is the last hurdle he needs to jump in order to fully regain his independence and have a secure home: “when I get my own place, it will be the last time I ever move.”

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New Tenancy Scheme Launched

2019 May 22 by

The Tenancy Ready Scheme is a new and exciting Exeter based project. The team works with individuals who are living in supported accommodation who are ready to move into their own tenancies. All of these people have overcome a background of rough sleeping and are now ‘tenancy ready’. 

The scheme works in partnership with a collection of Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) who are providing self-contained flats. We continue to support each person to maintain their tenancy by working with their strengths and believe that this opportunity of having a settled home will enable these individuals to continue to rebuild their lives.

The Tenancy Ready Scheme was commissioned by Exeter City Council with funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI), and is a collaboration between Julian House and BCHA.

The aim of the project is to reduce rough sleeping. This is achieved by assisting ‘tenancy ready’ individuals into social housing in order to ‘clear’ the housing pathway so that more individuals who are currently rough sleeping can access accommodation. 

One Tenancy Ready client, Sarah said that the Outreach Team helped save her life whilst she was rough sleeping 2 years ago. She was in a very dark place and her physical health was deteriorating because of life on the streets.

The Team supported her into supported housing where she stopped using drugs and later moved into her own flat. She is still clean now and is looking to volunteer with the Outreach Team in order to give back to those who helped her through such a difficult time. She also wants to use her experience to reach out to others who are in the same situation that she was in 2 years ago.

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