Thursday 20 July 2017

Spires service user story - Walk for Solidarity 2017

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As part of our on-going Walk for Solidarity 2017 fundraising campaign we have nominated two charities who will be beneficiaries of any funds raised.

One of which is Spires Day Centre in Streatham, south east London and over the coming weeks we will be sharing the stories and testimonies of their volunteers and service users to give more of an insight into the fantastic work they do in the local community.

"David" - Former service user of Spires Day Centre

David came to Spires in February 2016.  He was in very low mood, disheveled and extremely embarrassed about his situation. 

Initially, we gave him a sleeping bag, fresh clothes and some food before one of our support workers sat with him and let him talk, in his own time, about the circumstances that bought him to Spires.

Now 55, David originally trained and worked as a baker.  Although this remains his first love and primary trade, he told us he had been working in property maintenance for a family-owned south London company for several years, until his contract was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated just after Christmas. 

Having begun his working life in London, he moved first to Chalfont in Buckinghamshire before taking up an opportunity to go to Cumbria with his young family and set up his own bakery shop in Carlisle. 

The business thrived and before long he also had two market stalls in the city and two more down the road in Penrith. 

Success came at a price and after years of hard work, his family relationships broke down and his wife and two children emigrated to France. 

Left on his own, David struggled and it was not long before the business collapsed, leaving him a broken man. 

Ultimately, after attempting suicide, he had the good sense to call an old friend in London who persuaded him to travel south and helped him to get into treatment. 

Once recovered, David started doing the contract maintenance work with a friend, which both men were led to believe they would ‘inherit’ once the boss retired.  Sadly, this was not to be.    

It was the loss of this work that brought David to Spires’ door, guided by the local Job centre staff who assured him that we would help him make an application for state benefits – something he had never previously done - and help with finding suitable housing. 

While this was in progress, his support worker made a referral to a night shelter.  While he waited for a bed space, David continued to attend the centre every day for food, a shower and restorative conversation with the staff who, he said; ‘are so friendly and really seem to care about me’. 

In no time, he was smiling again, engaging with other service users as well as staff and seemed generally more at ease with himself and his new environment.  He acquired a bicycle and was soon riding miles each day in search of work, in between attending the necessary meetings with the DWP and other administrative agencies.   

After about two weeks a bed became available in the night shelter, where he remained before being referred to the YMCA.  Nick is now receiving Job seekers Allowance and in hostel accommodation funded by housing benefit.  Nevertheless, he is anxious to return to work as soon as possible and is applying for jobs on a daily basis. 

He still comes to Spires from time to time (on his bike from Surbiton!) and continues to be enthusiastic about his future.

**at the request of Spires, any names mentioned in this article have been been changed**

To donate to our Walk for Solidarity 2017 campaign, please visit http://bit.ly/walksolidarity17 Thank you