Therapeutic activities provide positive experiences, new skills, friendships, and a sense of achievement. This year we funded a variety of in-scheme groups such as tai chi, creative writing, gardening, and art classes. These groups provide homeless people opportunities to express emotions and try new hobbies.
The ‘Changes’ music studio in Westminster offers a range of positive, creative activities to former rough sleepers with addictions and other complex needs. Music gives them new ways to express themselves and socialise with one another. We funded the equipment to enable participants to record music sessions and their own podcasts.
Fit for Life
Exercise does not only improve physical fitness, but has been shown to have a hugely beneficial effect on people suffering from low self-esteem, mental health issues, or substance misuse problems. By funding scheme residents’ access to local gyms, sports and fitness courses, as well as in-house exercise equipment, we help homeless individuals improve their health and teamwork skills, while enjoying some physical activity. We fund activities such as football coaching, gym memberships, cycling, and horse riding.
Church Homeless Trust recently raised money for a ‘Fitness For You’ programme at The Quays hostel in Sittingbourne. This paid for equipment and improvements for their sports hall, so that the residents and local groups can participate in regular fitness and training sessions. Homelessness services in and around Liverpool also held an inter-service five-a-side football cup. We funded essentials that made the day possible, including travel expenses, a trophy for the winning team, and individual medals for winners and runners up. Charlie, from Parkview treatment centre, said that the day’s highlights were “seeing the faces of the participants when they saw the trophies, seeing them play the best they could, mixing with other services, making friends, seeing old friends were still alive. They did themselves proud.”
‘Grow and Cook’ and gardening
Gardening projects funded by us employ therapeutic gardeners to help homeless people to develop new skills, relax, and work together. We raise money for tools, plants and equipment to help homeless people grow their own food in allotments, and learn how to cook and eat healthily. We encourage projects that get individuals outside and enjoying the gardens at their temporary accommodation by holding BBQs, maintaining the plants and flowers, and using it as a therapeutic space.
‘Grow and Cook’ is a special project based in Huddersfield, but there are similar activities going on across England. In Huddersfield, residents of Laurel Court are growing produce at two local allotments, holding regular cooking and food hygiene sessions in the communal kitchen, and putting together a cookery book specially designed for use by people with learning disabilities.