Helen, Hope Housing
What for many people would be a minor inconvenience, for others is the thread that unravels everything as life falls apart. It is then where Acts 435 can be a real lifeline” (Stuart Gregg, Minister of Buttershaw Baptist Church, Bradford)
Many people don’t have access to assistance in their moment of need, nor are they connected to those who want to help. In the worst situations, life can unravel so drastically that it can end in homelessness. Getting someone off the streets will require a lot more than £120. This is where inspirational Christian charity Hope Housing comes in, founded and led by an amazing young woman, Helen Syrop, who has also been for some years the Acts 435 Advocate for Buttershaw Baptist. In early 2015, the wonderful Ruth Davison joined Hope Housing as Chief Executive, and also took on the role of Acts 435 Advocate on their behalf.
With experience and therefore contacts in the housing sector in Bradford, Helen sought to focus on provision which would fill the gaps not already covered by Bradford’s other services – host families for people over 26 years old, supported tenancies, and outreach support. Yet even here, as Hope Housing has walked alongside homeless people and sought to get them back on their feet, Acts 435 has had an important role to play, in two areas in particular:
- Bonds to enable those previously homeless to get back into rented accommodation. A gentleman called Pavilias benefited from Acts 435 help for this. Originally from Lithuania but having lived and worked in the UK for 10 years, divorce led him down the route of homelessness and alcoholism. Thankfully he received essential help from one project for the alcoholism whilst Hope Housing helped him get off the streets. Pavilias took the initiative to get into his own place and managed to negotiate with a private landlord a bond of just £100. Acts 435 donors responded, and I was able to visit Pavilias in his lovely 1-bed apartment and enjoy a very strong, delicious Lithuanian coffee! “The hardest thing about being homeless” he told me “is that you don’t see a future”. Thanks to charities working in partnership, he has hope and a future once more.
- Passports. Many people who come to Hope Housing are Eastern European and do not have any form of identification which means they cannot get a job or access benefits. In Bradford it also means they won’t be placed in a hostel until they have an active benefit claim. All doors are closed. Acts 435 donors have responded to a number of these requests for the travel costs (usually to London) and the cost of a new passport. A new passport is therefore an absolute lifeline - £100 often seems so little but to those who are most vulnerable it can completely turn a life around.
It was so encouraging to see and hear how Acts 435 is making a difference to the work of the Hope Housing and Buttershaw Baptist Church advocates, who have between them posted an incredible 198 requests on behalf of people in need in the last 5 years. What a privilege to be a resource for their invaluable work.