Streetlife changes lives of the homeless

Streetlife, Buchanan Street, Blackpool. Jane Hugo (CEO).
Streetlife, Buchanan Street, Blackpool. Jane Hugo (CEO).
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The well documented report on poverty in The Gazette recently, highlights the deep problems in Blackpool exacerbated by too few well paid jobs, unemployment and lack of affordable accommodation.

The well documented report on poverty in The Gazette recently, highlights the deep problems in Blackpool exacerbated by too few well paid jobs, unemployment and lack of affordable accommodation.

These are just a few things that make Blackpool challenging to the homeless or displaced young people in our community.

Add mental health issues, family breakdown, reliance on drugs and alcohol or other addictions such as gambling, then behind the front façade of our lovely tourist town we start to see the affects of deprivation in the number of displaced people that frequent the Streetlife charity.

This is one of the exceptional resources that helps give shelter and ongoing support to homeless and vulnerable young people between the ages of 16 to 25 years to cope with their lives and make a more realistic future for them.

The charity is headed by Jayne Hugo and a group of workers and volunteers who work tirelessly in responding to the needs of young people on a daily basis.

Streetlife is a functional charity which started in 1982 with one worker operating a drop in café with several volunteers.

Over the years its outreach work and support for young people involved different venues.

However by the 1990s as volunteers were challenged by the homelessness of young people more and more, they were able to rent premises at St John’s church and renovate an old air raid shelter at St John’s, Church Street, as a six bed emergency night shelter for homeless young people.

In 1997 the facilities were expanded and became what is now known as the base.

Streetlife has had various problems while trying to meet the needs of the young homeless, as funding a growing operation, alongside cuts in local authority spending it meant that the charity was forced to look for other means of raising money and improving the night Shelter premises.

In 2007 Jane Hugo and her team were able to secure capital funding from government.

This allowed the project to move premises and build a new day centre facility at 48 Buchanan Street which is now the hub for young people to receive counselling, and support to improve their circumstances, while helping them to move into private lodgings if and when necessary.

It is impressive when you consider the scale of the problem that it on average supports nearly 3,000 bed spaces a year in the night shelter; provides on average 3,000 meals annually, 81 home starter packs, while covering 250 counselling sessions amongst other appointments arranged on a daily basis.

It is an amazing operation, which offers advocacy, referrals to specialist agencies, and help with accessing private accommodation as well as residential training, cookery sessions and life skill sessions, including one to one support, cheap food and internet access.

In 2009 Streetlife was awarded as Day Centre of the year by the John Laing charitable trust and in 2010 on behalf of the organisation Jane Hugo was able to accept the Queens award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of the excellent input from local, national and International volunteers.

With the success of Streetlife, which has received grants from the National Lottery amongst other funding, one major concern is that grants are time limited and reliance from regular donations is always welcomed.

There are various ways to help the organisation to keep the wolf from the door…

Organising fund-raising events for the charity, donating £5 or £10 a month, become a volunteer, putting change in the bucket, or downloading and donating their song – Justgiving.com/street sound.

As Jane puts it: “This is the most rewarding work and it is heartening to see young people surmount their problems, with our help”

A quote from a letter she received from a young man who was unable to live at home through his abusive father is also a legacy of hope for everyone.

“My first meeting with Streetlife I was met by a very dedicated team, which for someone in my position was needed.

“I had people who were concerned whom I could talk to and wanted me to look further ahead for myself.

“The night I spent in the night shelter was daunting at first but a great experience.

“I had somewhere safe, which was warm, with a meal and someone to talk to and will take my experience with me.

“I will forever value the team at Streetlife and for everyone that they encounter”

This young man went to on to get work with the charity’s help and is now working abroad with the support of Streetlife.

For more information and to give support to this charity visit www.wearestreetlife.org or telephone (01253) 294477.

Alternatively call in to donate items of clothing, food, or household items to 48 Buchanan Street, Blackpool.