City Centre Life Project – A new initiative to support people in the city centre
By Steve Barkess, Community Development Coordinator, VOICES & Lisa Tomkinson, My Community Matters
A new project based in the city centre is currently being piloted to help people who are street homeless or presenting as homeless in the Hanley area. The initial project is to engage with individuals who would ordinarily have nowhere to go and to allow peer led learning. This project has been commissioned by the City Centre Task to Finish Group and is being hosted and delivered by Community Ventures.
So, what is this all for?
The aim of this service is not only to give people an opportunity to get some respite from residing on the streets but also to allow them to find a safe space to relax and make some social connections and access meaningful activities. The hope is that those who attend will help to shape the way the group works and make decisions on what they would like to do. Currently there are opportunities for people to get refreshments have a conversation with the staff and maybe play a game or two whilst having the opportunity to connect with new people.
The hope is that they will soon be able to get other advisory services involved in this to provide vital signposting, diversionary activities and support directly to the people that need it without necessarily waiting for lengthy assessments and referral processes to be completed from a multi-agency approach. This social space may also include the opportunity to access activities outside of the group and supported to access things like gym activities, art and other creative hobbies and interests. This is also about building bridges within the local community and demonstrating that often people simply need to have some social connection to establish themselves back into community. Another aspect of this is to prevent loneliness and isolation that people on the streets are often facing. The city centre life project aims to empower people who have often been disconnected from services for many reasons and allow them to have a voice to make decisions about what activities they can access.
Lisa Tomkinson of my community matters tells us:
“Our main aim is to give people the chance to get to know people in within their community and to start to social in a safe place. We want people to take the lead on deciding what activities are made available and support them to improve their overall wellbeing. We also want people to be able to attend somewhere that they won’t be stigmatised and get to understand why people are spending time in the streets within the city centre. This as mentioned will be fully decided by those who attend which is also our key objective to include empowerment and choice in all the work we do and the development of this new initiative. We also hope to encourage other service providers and agencies by inviting them to come along and talk to individuals who attend.”
The City Centre Life Project will be hosted from the Saltbox Café, Gitana Street, Hanley. If you are working with individuals who frequent the city centre and may benefit from this project, please get in touch by phoning 07792 120541.
From all the team at city centre life project.