Interview with Kevin Gill, Chief Executive of The Faith, Hope & Enterprise

1. What is the purpose of The Faith, Hope & Enterprise?

We house vulnerable adults including people with mental illness, learning disabilities and those who are overcoming addiction or reoffending behaviour. We try and provide them with security through stable accommodation, support and counselling. We sit down and look at where their strengths are, where they have support needs and what risks they face or present. Then we put together an action plan of what they want to achieve in their life and how we’re going to help them get there. This includes moving into their own accommodation at some point; a typical plan would be to find work and find their own accommodation, develop relationships, overcome addition, etc.

Some people will need long term support. For example, people with learning disabilities are probably not going to be able to live independently, so we do offer long term support with some people having been with us for fifteen years. Other people have three or four months because something in life has upset the balance and they’ve found themselves homeless. But within three or four months, they’ll find themselves somewhere with the council or a private rental provider.

2. What’s your role within the charity?

My role is the Chief Executive –  I lead the charity and spend a lot of time with the residents. I’ve known some people for many years and have developed quite personal relationships with them. Some have nowhere to go on Christmas day if they’ve no family and are lonely. Sometimes during the week, they might come home and share a family meal with us. We try and help them feel loved, valued and part of a normal society.

Most residents will be met every week for a couple of hours. I try to do this in coffee shops and cafes so that it feels like being part of a normal society rather than being sat alone in a house. But it’s always purposeful, helping them take steps forward that they want to take. Engaging with support work is part of living in the accommodation; if they disengage from the support process, then they have to move on. They must be looking to make a change.

2. Is there an example of a case that has been particularly effective?

Loads. Recently we had a couple that have two young children. In the children’s early years, social care were involved for a time but they’ve done really well and social care are no longer involved. They found work so moved on in April this year after about four years with us. So they’re both employed and in their own place.

Yesterday I was with a couple who have been with us for about six or seven years. They’ve both overcome addiction and had a little girl who was born in our accommodation. So originally they started in a shared house but we’ve found them a family home. So they’re doing well.

There is also a chap in his sixties who lives in Ashbourne and he’s been with us for about fifteen years. He was a lifelong alcoholic street drinker when he first joined us and he lives in his own flat now. We make sure he takes his medication and often do his shopping and cook for him. He’s become a family friend.

3. How is the charity funded?

We get quite high levels of housing benefit and that pays for managing the properties. We get quite a lot of damage and things stolen. We have to redecorate regularly and it takes quite a lot to manage.

We have charitable giving and donations through JustGiving and we recently signed up with Smile Amazon. For everyone who uses Amazon, a percentage of every purchase can be donated to The Faith, Hope & Enterprise. We have people who run events for us and people that donate to us every month as part of their overall giving in life.

We raise money through grants where we can. For example, we had a grant last year where we paid people’s rent whilst they were in prison. One of the real challenges that people face when they go to prison is losing their accommodation and coming out homeless; straightaway they enter a hostile lifestyle. Consequently two thirds of people reoffend within a year, so we bring them into a secure situation. Wherever we can, we keep open their accommodation, I’ll go and visit them in prison and keep in touch with them. So they know they’re going to have support coming out. But they have to pay their utility bills while they’re in prison just like anyone else so we had a grant that covered their rent for them instead of them worrying about racking up a huge amount of debt.

4. How much accommodation do you have for rehabilitation?

We currently have 29 spaces. Two of those are unsupported because they’re in full time work but they continue to rent from us because they have quite complex lives and they didn’t want to cut all their ties. The other 27 spaces are all supported and are a mix of shared houses and self-contained flats. What we really want to do is grow because every week, I have to turn people away because we haven’t got enough space.

5. What future plans do you have for growth?

We’d like to add some more properties and house some more people. I’d like to have another member of staff. At the moment, I have a full time colleague and my wife works part-time. But when I go on holiday with my partner, our colleague is entirely on her own. So we’d like to grow and increase staff numbers.

Long term, we’d love to have a full rehabilitation centre so that we could run a full detox and rehab programme for people. They would come out into our accommodation so that there is a continuity of support and relationship. There are not many rehabs in the country that work with children so we would love to fill this gap so parents with addiction can stay with their children. So that’s the long term dream.

6. How do people find out about your service and get help?

In the first instance people go to the council who refer to us. Drug and alcohol services, food banks, probation, prisons, GPs and solicitors also refer to us as we are mostly referred by word of mouth. Most people in the homeless community know each other so they soon find out where to get help.

 

       

Visit The Faith, Hope & Enterprise’s website for more information and donations.

To find out more about randd uk’s 10th anniversary celebrations, please visit our 10 Years page. You can also contact Sam Warburton at sam@randduk.com or call 07856 701996.

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