Special Feature: Harrogate’s homelessness day centre

31/10/13   The logo for  Springboard the Harrogate Homeless Project  on the wall  and  hooded tops of voulunteers
31/10/13 The logo for Springboard the Harrogate Homeless Project on the wall and hooded tops of voulunteers
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“Without this place there would be a lot more people out there with nowhere to go,” said Tyrone Daniel, 46, who spent 14 years sleeping rough in Harrogate.

“This place turned my life around, it gave me everything, it changed my way of thinking about life,” he added.

31/10/13   Linda Fulcher (left)  a joint manager at Springboard the Harrogate Homeless Project with one of their regulars Angel.

31/10/13 Linda Fulcher (left) a joint manager at Springboard the Harrogate Homeless Project with one of their regulars Angel.

Tyrone now has a flat of his own but he still visits the Harrogate Homeless Project’s Springboard day centre most days.

“It’s a place I can always come to and see good people,” he added.

Linda Fulcher, who has worked at Springboard since it was opened four years ago, is one of those good people

She said: “This place is for vulnerable people as well as homeless people. We can see up to 50 people a day. For a lot of the people here they just have nowhere else to go.”

tis  Pictured at Harrogate Homeless Project are NSNO Project Leader Andy Kirk and HHP Project Manager Liz Hancock.  (131010M3b)

tis Pictured at Harrogate Homeless Project are NSNO Project Leader Andy Kirk and HHP Project Manager Liz Hancock. (131010M3b)

“We had one gentleman who was 82 years old and he lived alone.

“He wasn’t homeless but he was vulnerable and wasn’t coping very well living on his own so he would come in every day for a meal.

“We made an agreement that if he wasn’t in by noon each day I would ring him or he would ring me.”

When the elderly gentleman started to become ill, it was Linda who took him to hospital.

She said: “I decided I needed to take him up to A&E.
He has no one, no family or anyone at all. If he hadn’t been coming here he would be on his own.”

The Springboard day centre is partly hidden behind the Wesley Chapel in Harrogate town centre. It is open from 10am to 2pm offering hot meals, laundry service, showers but most importantly advice and support for homeless and vulnerable people.

Alison Hobden, a mum of three who volunteers weekly at Springboard, said: “Some people only are here once, but most people we see almost every day.

“We don’t turn anyone in need away, even if they are refusing help from the hostel or don’t want to be part of any scheme, that is fine, they are still welcome here.”

The converted house has a computer room, TV room and an award-winning garden, and offers activities including art groups and gardening.

One man who has been homeless for three months said: “It fills a huge whole in the day when I don’t know where else I would be.

“I could go to the library for a while, but not everyone likes to read and write. Other than that people would just be sitting around in town with nothing to do.

“In the summer you can go to a park for a while, but in the winter that’s no good.”

Springboard is the only aspect of the Harrogate Homeless Project which is entirely funded by charitable donations and apart from two part-time members of staff the service is staffed by volunteers.

Alison started volunteering four years ago after hearing about Springboard through her local church.

She said: “A lot of people look at children in a bad situation and feel sympathy, but then with adults, they don’t think that way any more.

“To me these people are those same children in bad situations, but grown up.

She added: “This year has been really hard. three Springboard users have died this year.

“It has been really shocking sometimes, it’s difficult for us but affects the other people who come to Springboard too.”

Julie Swires, was volunteering at Springboard for the first time when the Harrogate Advertiser visited the centre.

She said: “The first thing I noticed is the family atmosphere and environment here – it’s all about teamwork.”

She added: “It was hard to explain to my children why I was volunteering here but I tried to tell my nine-year-old about how homelessness could happen to anyone.”

One of the most important aspects of Springboard is the provision of a hot meal which is made entirely from food donations.

Sophia Morgans, who cooks three-course meals for the centre twice a week, said: “We get a lot of food donations from churches and school, especially at Harvest Festival, which we are really really grateful for, but in the past few months we have seen the donations dropping off a little bit.

“We have regular donations from some of the supermarkets and Fodder send us regular donations of vegetables.

“We couldn’t cook as much healthy nutritious food 
without that regular donation.”

Sophia regularly spends hours at home preparing food to take into the centre.

She said: “I started volunteering here when my kids had all grown up and left home so I had more time on my hands

“I could have sat on a committee for a charity but I wanted to do something pro-active. I treat this like a job and take it seriously.”

Case study - ‘It was the worst time of my life’

Robert Cookson, 51, became homeless in March.

He said: “I used to live in Ripon. I lost my job after a disagreement with the manager. Then because I couldn’t pay my rent I got made homeless and had no where to go.

“It was the worst time of my life.”

After sleeping rough during the coldest March in decades he turned to the Harrogate Homeless Project.

Homeless people are offered a hot meal and advice and support.

Many, like Robert, are then referred to the No Second Night Out scheme.

Robert now lives in shared house he found through the homeless hostel but stills goes to Springboard most days.

He said: “I am currently looking for a job so I can get settled. It’s the staff and the volunteers that make this place, they give absolutely everything for all of us.”

Case Study - ‘Without this place I would be on deaths door’

Tyrone Daniel was first made homeless 14 years ago and has stayed at the Harrogate Homeless Project hostel on two occasions.

The project secured Tyrone a flat in Harrogate a year ago but he still visits Springboard most days.

He said: “This place has helped me for the past two years. Before I started to come here I was homeless for 14 years.”

Tyrone has struggled to adjust to his new life.

He said: “You can’t imagine what it was like after 14 years of being homeless, getting a flat. It was too much to cope with it times. It took me a while to adjust.

“These good people here have helped me and made sure I didn’t act on silly thoughts. It’s a shame they can’t help all people who need it.”

“Without this place I would be at death’s door, no doubt about it.”

See this Thursday’s Harrogate Advertiser for the final piece in the Advertiser’s campaign.