Action Homeless is a local charity, supporting approximately 400 people who are affected by homelessness every year. As well as providing emergency accommodation and helping people to address their practical needs, they work with each individual or family to identify the causes of their homelessness and through tailored support and advice help them to regain their independence.
In May 2015 the Community Foundation awarded Action Homeless £2,457.00 from our Leicestershire Fund. Funding was offered to support their Bridges for Children Project.
Bridge House provides a safe place for women and children who have had to flee their homes due to domestic violence. Children can be particularly and severely affected by homelessness: the upheaval and stress that comes with having no stable home has a hugely negative impact. Often if they are not given specialist help during this difficult time, it will affect them throughout their adult lives.
Action Homeless runs a project called ‘Bridges for Children’ which seeks to break the cycle of disadvantage for homeless children. The project provides daily activities designed to help children to cope with the stress and anxiety that they face. It helps them to build more positive relationships with their peers and parents and supports them to develop their self-confidence and communication skills. The project creates a safe space within which children can play and simply have a chance to have some fun.
The funding awarded from the Community Foundation enabled Action Homeless to provide activities throughout the school summer holidays, a particularly challenging time for the children they support. Activities included in-house activities such as arts and crafts, gardening, cooking and baking, and a sports day. In addition, they were able to take families on trips to the seaside, a theme park, and the zoo.
Thanks to the funding and the hard work and dedication of Action Homeless staff, children have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday and have been able to experience things and places that they would not otherwise have been able to.
As most of the children Action Homeless are working with live in a confidential refuge, it is not possible for them to play outside with their friends like most children do. This is why it is so vital that they have activities available in-house to keep them entertained and occupied.
The activities also enabled children to learn some new skills and develop their self-confidence. Owing to their situation, many of the children living at Bridge House have very low self-esteem and can struggle with socialisation. The activities provided opportunities for children to play and interact with their peers. The day trips were also a great highlight for the families and for most of the children it was their first experience of the seaside. These days out meant that families could spend quality time together, away from the refuge setting and create some happy memories.
Eilidh Kennedy from Action Homeless said, ‘ With support from donors, we are able to break the cycle of disadvantage faced by homeless children in Leicester. Many of the children that we support have had to flee their homes in an emergency because of domestic abuse. They leave behind an environment where the threat of violence is ever present and have to cut ties with family members, friends and nurseries or schools to ensure their own safety. This experience can have a lasting and traumatic impact on children for many years to come. Our specialist support enables them to deal with the trauma they have experienced, helps them to build up their confidence and find ways of coping with their emotions. Most of all it creates a space in which children can be children, escaping the stresses and worries of their everyday lives.’
If you would like to set up your own fund that works to support charities and groups in the local community, contact Katy Green, Chief Executive at Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org & 0116 2624 916.