Homelessness is one of the capital’s biggest problems with around 10,000 people sleeping rough on London’s streets every year.
With high rents, cuts in welfare services and an increasingly competitive employment market, it’s often said that many people are only a few missed paycheques away from being made homeless.
Fortunately, there are a handful of charities cross the capital trying to solve the problem through ‘crisis intervention’ – skills programmes, support groups or even just offering food and accommodation.
One such charity, the 999 Club in Deptford, recently teamed up with a Tideway to create a programme for homeless or vulnerable people.
Led by communications officer June Saunders, the five-week programme offered participants the opportunity to learn real-world skills to better prepare them for work.
June explained: “We were interested in improving our legacy work in Deptford, so I researched charities close to our Deptford Church Street site and found the 999 Club.
“They help people who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, and I became keen to find out more about their work.
“The 999 Club offers a base for vulnerable people to try and get back on their feet. They provide respite from the street, advice, learning, skills and employability support, a night shelter and access to visiting health services.”
June spoke with Molly Albone, Skills and Employment Co-ordinator, about how they could work with the 999 Club to help people.
The pair, in collaboration with the 999 Club, developed a five-week programme to introduce the Tideway project, talk about health, safety and wellbeing at work, and give the participants advice on getting into work.
June explained: “We gave them manual handling training, defibrillator training – skills that they can apply to their day-to-day lives.
“On the third week, we had a talk from Ramandeep Gill, Site Foreman at Chambers, and he spoke about our values, safety, site breifings – and he gave a briefing as he would give one on site, to give everyone a real-world experience of how it works.”
The participants also brought in CVs and certification and had a presentation from BuildLondon about jobs and skills.
During the final session, some of the participants agreed to have a mock interview with Tideway staff.
June added: “I’m really pleased, and pleasantly surprised with how well it went. One guy came to the first session and then got a job.
“I don’t know how much of an impact we made in one week, but it goes to show that a lot of these guys are highly employable.
“We’re already thinking about the next programme, which we hope to run early next year. The aspiration, ultimately, is to get these guys back into work, so hopefully what we’ve done has made a difference.”
Wayne Carrington, who participated in the course, said: "I think Tideway is one of the best companies when it comes to equal opportunities.
"They are great at confidence building and a company that instils self-worth in individuals. Respect was always shown to the trainees no matter what race, gender and background.
"It was a totally amazing experience for me. I think the course should have been longer, with more modules as it was so educational and enjoyable."
Dhalia Parkinson, from 999 Club, added: "I was so pleased with how it went. Our clients were positively buzzing afterwards.
"Their participation on the course had enabled them to feel a sense of value that recent life events had eroded."
"Yesterday’s finale struck just the right celebratory tone. I believe it was the consistent respect shown to them by CVB/Tideway in releasing some of your brightest and best to spend their valuable time with us that has been the psychological tonic that many of them needed."