We are individual volunteers, health and other outreach workers, employees in local organisations, church members, students and just two part-time paid staff, who work together to turn around the lives of those without secure housing in Poole, Dorset.
Rough, outdoor, sleepers are just a part of the homeless problem. There are as many, described as the hidden homeless, who have nowhere permanent to live but sofa surf between friends and family. And the same number are vulnerably housed and need ongoing help and support to maintain that accommodation and not recycle back into homelessness. These are all our clients.
We started working with rough sleepers in 2000, became a registered charity in 2002 and CIO in 2014.
At five drop-ins (three lunchtime and two evening) we provide basic necessities, such as showers, hot food, clothing and sleeping bags, and offer outreach access to the Poole addictions team, mental health workers, Poole rough sleeper outreach team and housing advisers. Since December 2015, we have offered temporary supported housing for verified rough sleepers at our three-bed Amos House, working closely with the local authorities to move them on into independent accommodation.
In 2018-19, 267 individuals attended our five drop-ins; 34 rough sleepers were provided by us with a hot breakfast throughout winter; and three former rough sleepers were moved on through Amos House into their own accommodation (to be replaced by three more off the streets).
Our Clients Say...
“They helped me get housing through Poole Council. Then I was in hospital and they came to see me. Which was amazing. I know they are always there, even if I don’t need them at the moment. They are just magnificent people.” Philip, former Amos House resident
"I'd just like to say a big thank you from my personal journey. Four years ago I was homeless on the streets of Poole and you guys gave me hope and support. I'm forever grateful to the amazing people I met. Thankfully I'm now clean and sober (4yrs) and without the food and clothes and happy people I saw every day when I came for lunch I don't think I would of had faith and hope to keep going. Also you welcomed my dog jock. He was always fed and loved and that was important as he was my life and part of my street life so thank you again.” Lorraine, former client
“R2R is amazing, a big help. It has helped me with benefit problems in the past. I meet new people at the drop-ins and it gives me something to do. I am currently unemployed. I complete volunteer work, but on the days I am not volunteering it keeps me occupied and stops me being bored stiff. It is good to meet new people; there is a good atmosphere. I meet people whose situation is a lot worse than mine. It makes me realise I am lucky. R2R is not just for homeless. It is for people who have got problems in all areas. You can use R2R to help you with other problems such as drug and alcohol problems. I used to use a young people’s advice centre, however, when they told me I was too old to go to them for help, R2R was another door that opened to offer help.” Tristan, a current client
Our Partners Say...
“It’s really important that we are at the drop-ins. They have a relaxed and informal feel so the guys will talk to us. It’s also important that other services are there too. We work closely with other providers and couldn’t do that without R2R providing space for us.” Katie Bathie, Community Mental Health Nurse
“The R2R drop-ins are an incredibly important engaging tool. The clients want to engage with us but have very complex issues. Even so we don’t ever give up on rough sleepers. It’s all about being human.” Andrew Teale, Service Manager St Mungo’s rough sleeper outreach
We Can Do More...
We know there is so much more we can do if only we had our own space. Currently we work from the United Reformed Church in Skinner Street, Poole, where we have a small office with access to a hall and kitchen for the five drop-ins. Unfortunately, because of use of the church hall by other organisations, we are limited on the days and times that we can be open (typically 90 minutes in the evening and 3 hours in the daytime). In Poole there is no winter shelter and the only provision for rough sleepers is SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol), which provides sleeping accommodation when the temperature is below zero for three consecutive days.
Our dream is to establish a centre, which will be the focus of all support for both the homeless and vulnerably/newly housed through partnership with everyone who can help.
Our Time is Now...
We have made a start. In February 2020 we acquired our own premises – a former Baptist Church where we held our first drop-ins. We own the building outright from our own funds, an interest-free loan from Talbot Village Trust (repayable only in the event of selling) and a grant from Help the Homeless.
In the short-term we will maintain our existing level of support and outreach services, invite the churches to bring their soup runs indoors, to a warmer and safer environment, offer a weekly Sunday lunch and establish a winter shelter. Looking further ahead, as funding and volunteer support permit, we would like to be open seven days a week and increase the outreach services offered to include financial advice, training and other opportunities to help our clients move back into the community - Lasting change, at last.
With Your Help...
This building is in need of substantial refurbishment, which will include new heating system, insulation, kitchen, showers, laundry room and office space. We can stay where we are as long as needed while the work is being undertaken. Our hope is to be able to move in by Autumn 2020 in order to allow a winter shelter to be set up, so guys and girls in Poole do not have to spend another winter night on the streets.
The Poole business community is already expressing support for our project, as is the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner and local MP Michael Tomlinson. Will you?