22nd December 2015
It’s so easy to blame individuals for their situation without knowing their story. Sometimes I hear people say that the homeless are just too lazy to get a job. That’s not our experience. You should see our clients’ faces light up if they’ve got a job interview – that’s very real! Nearly all want to work.
Just one example is 19-year-old Gemma. When she first came to our centre she was sleeping rough in a tent in a city park. Extremely vulnerable, she had become trapped in a violent relationship and was too frightened to leave her partner because she was so scared of sleeping rough on her own. Gemma visited The Sanctuary regularly to wash her clothes and have a shower. Over time, she gradually started to trust our female volunteers who built up her self-esteem and encouraged her to look for work.
Gemma is now in her first ever full-time job, is living back at home having re-built her damaged relationship with her mother and left her abusive relationship. She is now earning her own money and looks completely different – she is glowing. She is proud of herself, has self-respect and for the first time Gemma feels positive and excited about the future. She just needed real, committed support – for people to believe in her and to grow her confidence.
Working with employers to break down myths and stigma about homelessness and to give young people a chance can be challenging. This is where our partnership with Pret is so important. Pret understands homelessness and they work closely with us to help us give young people a better future. Not only do they donate unwanted food, they also fund our Crisis Support Manager’s salary (one of only 3 paid roles) and give homeless people a life-changing opportunity of a paid programme in their stores.
So when you buy your next Pret sandwich and see that 50p goes to the Foundation, remember that you are doing a good thing and changing lives. A small quote from one of our clients sums it up nicely: “Without The Sanctuary I’d still be sleeping in a tent under Brighton Pier – it’s as simple as that” Mark, 20.
On behalf of Mark and all the other homeless people around the UK who get support from the various charities Pret and its customers support, thank you. Wishing you a very merry Christmas.