The Gingerbread Centre - what do we do?
Hi, my name is Chris and I am part of the team at The Stoke Gingerbread Centre. We help families in the city and surrounding area who have been made homeless or are under threat of losing their home. Many people have preconceived ideas about homelessness and often just associate it with rough sleepers, but it is a much bigger and more complex issue triggered by many circumstances.
Our priority when a family is referred to us is to provide temporary accommodation in one of our flats or houses to keep them together. This is provided for as long as necessary. Very often when they lose their home the family can be split up with children going into temporary foster care and the parents into bed and breakfast accommodation. This can make a bad situation worse, especially for the children. Our main accommodation site is Rothesay Court in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent (pictured). Our second building, Catherine Court in Hanley, concentrates on supporting teenage parents and their families. Both facilities are staffed 24 hours a day.
Family Support - how does it work?
Once we have a family settled into their new accommodation, our Family Support Team works with them to establish what led to them being made homeless and then formulates a bespoke support package to address the issues and get them back on track and ultimately back into a home of their own, regardless of how long it takes. In some instance we have supported families for up to two years.
Money can often be the factor that sets things in motion, ultimately leading to a family losing their home. Debt and lack of money management skills can be the main factors, but often may just be a trigger for later mental health issues and even domestic violence.
Our Support Team will draw on other agencies where necessary to seek extra advice to help with money matters such as budgeting and general financial management. We are expecting an upturn in the incidence of homelessness resulting from financial issues particularly as we move out of the current pandemic, the Furlough Scheme comes to an end, the eviction embargo is lifted and the mortgage payment holiday finishes. It is estimated, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that 1 in 5 monthly mortgage payers is only one payment away from possibly losing their home.
Children - they are the future.
Children can be severely affected by homelessness, but they are the next generation which must be protected. Where appropriate, we work to get them into training and further education to help give them the skills they need so that they can get a trade and employment to give them the secure future that their family may not have had in the past. If the children can also better understand money management, for example, it can bode better for their future.
We also run an Activity Club aimed at giving children social skills and engagement opportunities while at The Gingerbread Centre. Every child has the right to play regardless of their circumstances.
Why do we need your support – our project?
Like many charities, we have felt the impact of the pandemic on our fundraising and hence income. It is essential that we can continue our services going forward and particularly our staff working with families who have lost their home for financial reasons. The money will be used to maintain our Family Support Team to help them work with families to achieve financial stability, budgeting and financial management skills, so that they can better handle their finances in the future when back in a home of their own.
Please remember, homelessness doesn't discriminate. It can happen to anyone. It just takes one thing to trigger a set of circumstances, like dominoes falling over, to mean within a very short time, a family can lose their home, the garden they love and even the family pet. Please watch our video to see the impact we have had on families who have been helped and supported by The Stoke Gingerbread Centre. One parent commented:
“I had nothing when I came here, but when I left, I had everything.”
Please support us. Thank you very much.