I have been working for Maggs for almost half of its existence; 13 years working at Maggs on June 23rd. So why did I get involved with Maggs? I started off volunteering for Maggs, twice a week to help out in the kitchen. I remember food then was very basic and Sunday dinner was soup and mashed potato and there were only 3 volunteers in total. The position of volunteer co-ordinator was being advertised when I started volunteering and I got the job. I learnt such a lot as volunteer co-ordinator a post that I held for 7 years, I also took on responsibility for health and safety.
6 years ago Maggs was going through a time of significant uncertainty and I became acting manager and eventually manager. After lots of determination and hard work, in partnership with my team and a board of trustees we are where we are now.
Here is what Maggs does in 20 words or less: we work to help the homeless and vulnerable people, raise their self-confidence thereby enabling positive life changes.
We have many services available now – the day centre is the core of Maggs, it continues to provide support and provision of basic facilities, and it also offers support that is tailored to individual needs. Staff provide advice and guidance to prepare service users for the journey into integrating back into mainstream society.
We also host a homeless health hub in partnership with the clinical commissioning group , this includes a doctor, nurse, podiatrist and dentist. We then offer a service to bridge the gap from accessing services in the day centre to other providers. This partnership assists to reduce costs to the NHS; by working to intervene to prevent less admissions to A and E departments and preventing illnesses reaching crisis point before they are addressed. We are hoping soon to also host a mental health drop in. Did you know that nationally 72% of homeless people suffer from mental health issues (the general population is 1 in 4).So we host various other drop ins from services that provide support in substance misuse.
We also have a clothing project that give clothes and household items to those in need, all items are donated by the public. We also provide starter packs for those who gain new accommodation, as many would otherwise move into an empty home.
We also run an activities centre. This provides basic skills training and enrichment courses (to promote further engagement). These include art, cookery, poetry, learning through games, computers and music.
Then we offer a befriending service, service users are matched with a volunteer befriender and meet once a week. Any issues can then be fed back to staff and then we can work with the service user to address those issues until they reach crisis point.
I’ve done some strange things for Maggs over the years here is my top 3
- jumping out of an aeroplane
- white water rafting and I cant swim and the instructor capsized us on purpose
- ringing the cathedral bells 30 times on our 30th birthday
I have seen much sadness and much joy over the years; but through it all, even when people are in absolute crisis we offer hope in an otherwise bleak future. We offer dignity – at a time when all is lost. So many times people have told me that Maggs has saved their life and that Maggs is a place where they are treated as humans again. This is why I painted the picture featured at the top of this blog post.
Worcester Cathedral have asked us to create an exhibition to raise awareness of homelessness, they also asked me to paint a picture. I started to learn to paint in January, and I have only ever painted 2 other people and those 2 got filed in the bin – so this was quite a challenge for me. Then what to paint, what message did I want to give?
The background was quite a challenge to decide. I had sketched a wall but had not decided on whether it would stay that way, my friend said “is that a significant wall?” I said “no it probably will change”. Then I thought about it counted the height of the bricks which is the exact same height as the wall outside Maggs. So even subconsciously I had painted Maggs wall.
There are a few other messages in here and reasons why I painted what I did. The pink sleeping bag. Many years ago we were donated 500 pink dotty sleeping bags and for a long time this is all we had. And people took these as it was better than no sleeping bag at all. So the message here is beggars cannot be choosers