Our charity is about local people helping local people in need. Hear the stories of the people we support about their experiences in the Helping Hands community and moving towards a better future. We aim to give people support and opportunities to work towards a better future, be more active in the community and get back into work.
Alec Roberts explains how by making positive choices, and working with Helping Hands, he found a way out of homelessness.
A normal family man with a partner and two children, Alec Roberts worked as a hospital porter when an injury led to him taking time off work. He became depressed, started drinking heavily and eventually lost his job.
“Things began to fall apart in my relationship too,” he said. “My partner didn’t understand my illness and it began to affect her mental health too, so she asked me to leave.”
Reluctant to impose on his friends, or fully open up to them, Alec became homeless. “It was a shock and I felt numb,” he said. “I’d gone from being a homeowner to not knowing where to go. I felt like a rabbit in headlights.”
Being practical, he took a tent with him, but the lack of routine and waking up to find ice on the inside of his tent were just some of the hardships he faced.
“I found out early on about the Helping Hands soup kitchen,” he said, “and started to go there regularly for a month. It’s a great place, they’re non-judgmental and always willing to help.
“I wanted to do something constructive, so I began volunteering at the Helping Hands House2Home project, delivering and collecting furniture, two days a week. It gave me back some structure to my day and I enjoyed it.
Getting into employment
“One step led to another. Through a contact I’d met at Helping Hands, I heard about a job at Coffee Architects, and I got paid work in the kitchen there. My boss cared about what I could do and how reliable I was. It gave me that routine, which was really good for my mental health.”
Alec now works for Warwickshire Housing Related Support Services, which provides housing for people who’ve been homeless or faced difficulties. It was an opportunity he came across during a drop-in session at Helping Hands.
“I’m living in a housing association property now,” he said. “The best thing is that my two daughters, who are 13 and eight, can come and stay with me every other weekend.
“My advice to others would be to do as much as you can for yourself. Take positive steps: address your problems rather than ignoring them. Try volunteering and make sure you always attend appointments. It can feel like jumping through hoops, but it shows a commitment to work, and to yourself. There are ways out of being homeless, and a lot of people just need a little lift to get there.”
In the words of the people who come to our soup kitchen
“Helping Hands gives me somewhere to come without judgement. It helps take me forward from my addictions.
I found out about volunteering from having been at the soup kitchen. Now I help set up for the soup kitchen, and help with the House2Home project – loading the van & getting people set up with furniture when they have been re-homed.”
In the words of clients at our soup kitchen