Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Catching Lives

Catching Lives are a charity based in Canterbury who aim to help the homeless. Unfortunately, there is a vast case of homelessness in Canterbury, which is like most major cities, but independent charities such as Catching Lives are there to help make a difference. I recently visited the centre that they run and I was so impressed. They offer services such as the internet, breakfast and lunch (dinner during winters as well), a safe place for people to enjoy life with a snooker table etc, they do laundry and find clothes for those who may not have any. They provide the homeless with an address which means that they can apply for jobs, and they help them with this process too. I cannot even describe how much respect I had for these people. 

Here is a list (taken from the Catching Lives website) which says what the charity offers in more detail:

  • Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Food Parcels and referrals to the Canterbury Food Bank).
  • Laundry; 2 Washing Machines, 2 Condenser Tumble Dryers and we supply the detergent. Clients are responsible for doing their own laundry.
  • Toilets and Showers (We supply a variety of toiletries and clean towels)
  • Storage (Rough sleepers have access to a small area wherein they can store belongings that they can’t carry with them; or are particularly personally valuable)
  • Postal Address (essential for claiming benefits, looking for work, or registering with a GP).
  • Use of a Telephone
  • IT suite (Computers and internet access)
  • Mental Health Outreach Service
  • Advocacy and Advice Services which include specialist advice on:
    • Homelessness
    • Housing
    • Welfare Benefits
    • Income Tax
    • Domestic Abuse
  • Access to ESOL lessons and literacy classes
  • A variety of structured activities (inc. Film Club, relaxation classes, gardening)
  • Signposting to all manner of agencies.
  • Canterbury Community Shelter

You can see that the clients are truly offered a lot of services which can help to make their lives better. Whilst we were there we asked whether they opened on the weekends, and they are unable to due to staffing issues and money. However, Catching Lives are hoping to change this soon! They are really hoping that they can open at the weekends, both on Saturday and Sunday to be able to offer these services to those in need. Obviously, the fantastic services they provide are not just needed on weekdays, people need them on weekends too. Ideally, Catching Lives want to open 7 days a week between the hours of 9am-2pm which really makes all the difference, and provides a safe place for, those living on the streets.

So part of this post is a call for help; if you are local to Canterbury, why not volunteer some of your time? Why don't you club together with some friends to raise some money to help Catching Lives open for one day? If you raised £340 then you would be able to say that you have opened the charities doors for a weekend - how amazing would that be. Personally, I'm hoping to volunteer some of my time, and maybe even raise some money too. We raised £227.53 for the Charity recently when we had our Student Volunteering Week Event and in the future I'd love to be able to raise some more. 

Supporting local charities is something that we can all do. I really really believe that by helping charities even by donating a little bit of money, or by volunteering one afternoon a week we can make big changes to the world around us. 

Have you ever heard of Catching Lives before? 

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