The £1,527.32 raised by students during the Christmas festivities was donated to the Northampton Hope Centre which provides support to the homeless. It caters for up to 90 clients daily, dispensing food, training and advice, a far cry from its origin as a soup kitchen 37 years ago.
Director Richard Appleby said: ‘Now we are a day centre and offer many activities. We try to build up clients’ self-worth and self-confidence by engaging in life skill workshops. We have a film club, cookery club, allotment group, outdoor group, art therapy, reflexology, Indian head message, meditation and chiropody. We also have an online centre so people use our computers free of charge. A lot of them have never used a computer before and are apprehensive.’
The centre relies on donations and grants and is run by eight staff members and 60 volunteers. The money raised at Brooke Weston will go towards its general running costs of £12,000 per month.
Mr Appleby, who has been managing the centre for 15 years, said: ‘The majority of our clients are transient, they come for a while and then move on. They come to us when things are dire. They come for a sense of community because they feel accepted and valued and we build them up.
‘The only way to change someone’s lives on the streets is to really get alongside them and understand their needs and the complexity of their problem and the reasons they ended up there; usually through some form of rejection by family, school, relationship or work. They can’t handle it so they end up bypassing life and most have health issues or an addiction problem.
‘We offer an environment where they can eat, shower and socialise, somewhere people can normalise their lives and feel part of the community. It has to be a vocation. I always try to build a service around our clients’ needs. It has been the toughest but the most enjoyable job I have ever done.’