Nick Labiche, Team Leader at Hope Community Homes in Brixton, reflects on the last five years of providing supported housing to some of London’s homeless community.
God is at work in the lives of the men we support here. It’s a joy to see people flourish and grow, sometimes spiritually through our Bible studies and gospel conversations. We’ve seen some residents go to church and college, re-establish contact with their families, and be healed from post-traumatic stress. Two of our three current tenants have jobs, and some are able to contribute to their rent.
Out of the nineteen people who have stayed with us over the past five years, three are still with us, five have gone back to the streets and 11 have moved on to independent living. Praise God we have a 68% success rate!
However, we do see some of our residents coming back to Webber Street our day centre for those who are homeless – just giving someone a house doesn’t always solve their problems. They need spiritual help, but practical and emotional too, in order to move away from their old lifestyles. Our strapline is ‘Restoring lives and communities’. These men need long-term love, support, and friendships.
We’re very grateful for our partnership with the Pret Foundation. It’s been a great success.
Firstly, they give financial support, equipment, sandwiches 4 days a week, and have sponsored a Polish-speaking worker to interact with our Polish guests at Webber Street. Secondly, we’re now part of the Pret Foundation, which means we can refer people to their ‘Shooting Stars’ project, a three-month work programme which can lead to a full-time job with Pret. During the three months, we’re keyworkers to the residents on the programme. I attend quarterly meetings at Pret HQ together with other homeless charities to give feedback on how their programme can be improved. We’ve also dedicated one of the flats to the Pret Programme and benefit from the wide experience of the Pret Foundation’s other partners - one man was referred to us by another Pret partner, moved into the dedicated flat, completed the three-month work programme and now has a job with Pret.
It’s wonderful to be in partnership with other organisations, both Christian and non-Christian. We believe God can use all of this to his glory to grow his kingdom. We look forward to seeing more fruit come forth from this long-term work, which can at times be discouraging. But overall, we see how patiently and sensitively caring for a person, body and soul, is at the heart of the gospel message.
My Dreams For The Next Five Years
- Be able to offer a similar project for women.
- Be able to offer a place in shared accomodation for our tenants to move into after their time with us comes to an end.
- Developing a social enterprise similar to Pret’s to give our residents work experience and prepare them for re-entry back into the workplace, all with a gospel-centred foundation.
Please pray for us as we seek God’s will and guidance for the future.
This article first appeared in Changing London.