Barons Court Project tell us what giving means to them…
Barons Court Project is a day centre for people who are homeless and also people living with mental health problems. They support people who are homeless by giving information, advice and guidance and 1-1 support for help with a range of issues. They aim to help people get back on track, into housing and employment and then move on, so that they can live a fulfilling life. They also work with people who have lifelong mental health issues. Their aim is to provide structure, routine and be a welcoming community where people are accepted as they are. People may be a member of this community for the rest of their life. We spoke to Director, Michael Angus, to learn what it means to them when people decide to support their cause…
What does giving back really mean to you?
For Barons Court, giving back means much more than just donating money, although they do have to fundraise to keep providing the services they offer, so all donations are welcome. People can give in other ways too. They can donate Gifts in Kind, including food, toiletries and household products, reducing the charities expenditure.
They also have a volunteer programme, so that people can donate their time . We love that people can give in a number of ways and we have an army of volunteers that allow us to run all sorts of activities for our community. Volunteering is split into three categories. First, there are those who want experience that can lead them into employment. Barons Court Project has taken Social Work Students and other volunteers which has led to people gaining jobs in the field. Michael says “this is great as it is a way in which we can give back to the community”. The project is about to launch a new partnership with the local college so that students can gain work experience for their NVQ Level 3 in Social Care. Students and young people bring their own skills and talents and often set up new activities such as Music Groups, Drama etc. which gives the project new life.
We also work with corporates and we are honoured to have requests from a lot of different groups who want to donate their time and help. Procter & Gamble came in for a day with 14 senior staff and completed all sorts of tasks for us and SSE have recently visited us as well, helping at our Christmas Party. We do our best to find a match for what they’re interested in doing so that they can use their skills to help our community. One person, for example, came in and ran a CV session, for our Service Users. What we really want is people to engage with our community, bring people together so that they can discover that we’re all really alike, diminish the boundaries and get rid of any stigma that’s often associated with mental illness. We’re all about helping people to build relationships, breaking barriers and allowing people to feel at ease with themselves.
Finally we are proud to host Service User Volunteers. These placements offer volunteering opportunities for people with mental health problems in a safe space, where they can be themselves, whilst learning skills and being useful.
We’re all about helping people to build relationships, breaking barriers and allowing people to feel at ease with themselves.Click to Tweet
That way, they can all be shaped by their experience with us. We aim to create an atmosphere where all people are treated and looked at in the same way and can be seen as a person.
How does it impact your team when people decide to give?
It really lifts and boosts everyone in the team. Knowing that there are people who want to engage and help makes us feel that what we’re doing is genuinely valued by the wider community. It gives us credibility and the motivation to do more – especially during difficult times.
How much of this often happens at Christmas?
We have schemes set up so that people can work with us throughout the year. This gives us a chance to budget the costs across the year more evenly. We have a great partnership with the Felix Project and City Harvest who drop off food weekly. However we also have a Christmas appeal where people can sponsor a Christmas meal, for just £5.00 and last year this paid for all of our Christmas activities.
We’re trying to ensure donations and volunteering is spread out throughout the year so that the community is not overwhelmed with the amount of people joining us, but benefits in many ways. We often get so many people wanting to volunteer during the Christmas period that we have to turn some people away, but we are very willing to reschedule for the new year.
We have set up the “Friends of Barons Court Project” scheme, which can be found on the website. This gives people an opportunity to donate monthly through the year to help us in our work.
What can you do when people decide to give back? What wouldn’t you have been able to do?
Without all of the people who decide to donate to us (whether it be time, money or gifts) we wouldn’t still be here today. Our new website was created entirely by volunteers and Procter & Gamble paid for the videos that we have on the website. As a charity, we’re all about relationship building and whether we meet a person who drops by, a regular volunteer or a donor, we welcome everyone into our community with open arms.
If you want to learn more about Barons Court Project and what they’re doing to make a difference, you can visit their website here.