A national charity with services in Doncaster is calling for people in the borough to stop and consider how they would survive if something life-changing happened to them and not to ignore the stories behind homelessness and related issues as demand for support services continues to increase.
“It is all too easy to walk by someone who is sleeping rough, or to dismiss someone you see bundled in blankets and a sleeping bag and assume that they are a drunk or a drug addict. But, if you lost your job, your relationship broke down, got into trouble with the law, or you drank to block things out, how would you cope?” comments Stephen Bell OBE, the Chief Executive of national charity Changing Lives.
“We have the most fantastic frontline staff who support thousands of people and their families every month, and demand for our help is sadly, constantly increasing. At our specialist Women’s Services and day centres, we support women and girls with a wide range of needs. We are the only national provider of holistic women’s services working in some of the most deprived areas of England and Wales. We know that girls and women today face problems that are often subtle or misunderstood and despite shifts in attitude and changes in the law, women are often unheard, isolated and face discrimination or abuse. Here at Changing Lives, we offer a wide range of programmes which recognise and respond to the distinct needs of women and girls, where they can get the support they need in safety and without fear or judgement.”
The charity which has support services across the country, and funds the women’s centre on Cleveland Street in Doncaster town centre, has specialised support for people who have in the main, complex and multiple problems.
The charity has recorded large increases in the demand for their services across the board; addiction and recovery, accommodation, family and women’s services.
Bell added: “This is certainly a challenging time but we are committed to our vision of supporting people, many of whom are families and young people who have been affected by a range of issues.
“The reality is that more and more people need our support, some due to the impact of welfare reform, others due to complex issues such as exploitation, abuse, offending and addiction. We have seen a notable increase in the number of people coming forward for help and during September to November we saw an increase of over 2,500 new clients which is staggering. Our Women’s Services alone over the last three months have seen an increase of 166 per cent in demand for support and requests for help with accommodation has increased by 56%.
“But this isn’t just about numbers, it is about the people the numbers represent, people like Jane. Jane is in her late twenties and has struggled with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for years. Coming from a background of domestic violence and being bullied at school, Jane has had some help over the years but has continued to struggle. About a year ago, Jane came into contact with Changing Lives and started an introductory course on volunteering and mentoring. Over time, Jane gained experience in administration and lots of new skills to help her secure work in the future. Most of all, Jane’s confidence and self-esteem has increased and she now feels confident in meeting new people and to look for a job.”
Stephen said: “Whilst this is the season of goodwill, with funding cuts continually decreasing and demand for our services increasing, Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone. At a time for giving, we ask that people are aware of what a difference their support for Changing Lives can bring. Amounts such as £10 can make a huge difference to the people we help, as we can provide a breakfast for five people who have slept rough the previous night or £20 can buy bedding for someone setting up a new and safe home for their family. Donations such as these are vital for us to be able to continue our ever more vital work for people in need, and the work of our fantastic team of people including our volunteers, some of whom have been homeless and struggled with issues themselves, goes on throughout the whole year.”
vices for women, men and families have been developed along with employment opportunities, all supported by successful social enterprises.
To make a donation, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/tynesidecyrenians/