From Good Shepherd CEO Tom Hayden
It is that time of year again when people tend to look back on what has happened over the last 12 months, and to look forward with hope and optimism about what is ahead, and that is no different here at the Good Shepherd.
During 2023, we have seen some fantastic successes with people moving into their own accommodation, gaining employment and achieving their goals, but, at the same time we have seen an increase in the number of people having to access our services due to the ongoing cost of living crisis and the rise in homelessness.
As we approached the end of the year, we had already helped 1,345 individuals in different ways, over 300 more than last year, via our free-to-access food and crisis support services.
We continue to follow the idea that ‘It Starts With A Meal’, and that our food service is often the first port of call for people to engage with the Good Shepherd. But, from there, we are often able to provide further support having expanded the range of services we offer, or signpost to other agencies that we work with across the city. As just one example, in the first ten months of the year we delivered over 60% more casework sessions than in 2022.
Our LEAP (Lived Experience Into Action) project is in its second year offering training, volunteer placements and level 3 qualifications for people who have experienced homelessness, poor mental health, addiction and other issues. We have also worked with private sector landlords to support people experiencing homelessness who have been involved in the criminal justice system, into their own accommodation. And our Housing First team continues to provide individually-tailored support to some of the most disadvantaged rough sleepers, also in their own accommodation.
We have enjoyed being involved in so many fantastic events over the last 12 months, from the Molineux Sleepout thanks to our good friends at Wolves Foundation, to comedy nights held at the Cleveland Arms, working closely with Wolves Former Players Association and our own Miles into Meals fundraising campaign which will be back for 2024.
We couldn’t deliver the range of services that we do and meet the increasing demand from people in the city during these challenging times without the help of our supporters, and that is everyone from our volunteers, trustees, ambassadors, partner agencies and funders to the incredible backing of people across the community in making donations or holding fundraisers. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our incredible group of staff, many of whom have lived experience themselves, who continue to go above and beyond in their work to help people make progress, wherever they are in their journeys.
I can only give a heartfelt thanks on behalf of our team, the Brothers, and the people that access our services to everyone who is a part of our work to end homelessness, support recovery and create pathways out of poverty in Wolverhampton.
In however you support our work, you are part of the Good Shepherd team, and are helping to give the most disadvantaged people in our communities the opportunities that they deserve. It is vitally important work that we look forward to continuing to deliver throughout 2024.
Happy New Year!