The Steppin’Stone Centre describes itself as ‘An organization that arose from a Christian ministry and whose mission is to help, in a totally non-discriminatory way, homeless, recently re-housed homeless or vulnerably housed people. We encourage our members to tackle the issues that prevent them from moving forward towards a more positive life-style. Our focus is upon support and nurture, along with challenge.’
The 2014 end of year report stated that it had been a difficult year for the members, with welfare reforms beginning to take effect, cost of living increases and lack of affordable housing playing a significant part in the increase of home-lessness. Poor overcrowded housing conditions, plus poverty, are a contributory cause of anxiety and stress. This has an impact on health—both physical and mental—and on family relationships.
Recent debates and legislation around immigration from within the EU are also impacting on requests for help which are very difficult to solve due to restrictions on benefits. Most of these immigrants are keen to stay here and want to work, but without housing it is difficult to find employment.
Despite these continuing problems, the therapeutic activities at the centre continue to flourish, due to the dedicated staff and a band of volunteers. The art classes are very popular and the allotment remains so. ‘Porch Preserves’, which developed as an offshoot of the surplus produce, is now well established. A recent addition is the New Job Club which meets on Friday afternoons. This is a dedicated time for members to access support with job seeking, writing CVs, interview preparation, and filling in application forms.
While writing this the wind has been howling in the street outside and the rain pouring relentlessly; the thought of being homeless is daunting and I conclude with a final quote from the centre.
‘The generosity and support from groups in the community, such as those at St Mary’s, is greatly appreciated and helps us to continue the work we do. So thank you from the staff and the members at Steppin’Stones.’