Our Aim in our April Awareness Month will be to share a Case Study of the work Wintercomfort does for the Cambridge community. More to follow!
Imagine living a full life, rich in different experiences. You left school at 15 to work as a Silver Service waiter before serving for 12 years in the British Army – in places such as Germany and Northern Ireland. Where would you see yourself at 60? Celebrating your birthday surrounded by family and friends? Looking forward to your retirement? Sleeping in a wartime ‘pillbox’ along the River Cam with no-where else to go for food or shelter?
In 2012 Adie fell behind with his rent and was thrown out of his home. He camped out for a cold eight months between September and April. “When you’re homeless you are at the bottom of the pile and the only way is up. If you can’t change things, at least you can try to improve the things you can. But you can’t do everything on your own.” And that’s where Wintercomfort comes in.
People say that Wintercomfort acts as a signpost to the many other homeless services in the city. Adie started coming to Wintercomfort for breakfast and after meeting an old friend who works for the Street Outreach Team, he was interviewed for Cyrenians’ accommodation: a perfect example of joined up services working together to help someone.
“Wintercomfort is a godsend, if it’s used as it should be. It points people in the right direction but you have to be prepared to ask for help.” For many people it can be hard to know where to turn when they become homeless. Practical and approachable, Adie has found that people talk to him when they arrive at Wintercomfort and that he is able to suggest which person to approach for advice and support.
Imagine being faced with the terrifying prospect of being homeless. What would you do? Give up? Close yourself off from the rest of the world? Find yourself being awarded a certificate for being the most positive person at Wintercomfort?
“I like doing, being busy, helping out wherever I can”. At Wintercomfort Adie has volunteered in the food4food café; he’s involved in Friday cookery classes and the City Rangers gardening project; and he makes a point of attending every service user forum. “I’ve been at the bottom, and I’m going up.”
Notes: Adie’s rent is currently £125 pw. If he were to work he could lose his housing benefit, end up with less money and be unable to pay his rent.
When on JCA Adie was applying for up to 30 jobs a week. He volunteered for 25-30 hours at a charity shop with the prospect of a job at the end of his time there. The Jobcentre felt that he was not doing enough to look for work.
Adie’s landlady lost her husband and in order to keep her business would have had to have work done around the building totalling approximately £7,000. Her tenants got together, estimated the materials needed would cost £500 and provided the labour for free.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by James Mitchell