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Building a positive future for homeless people

19 August 2013

Homeless people in Norwich are being given the skills and confidence to get their lives back on track thanks to a Big Lottery Fund-supported partnership project. As Libby Brown explains, LEAP Norwich is responding to a range of social issues and giving hope to those who thought all was lost.

At LEAP, we understand that homelessness is not just a lack of bricks and mortar. It’s often a symptom of underlying social problems including relationship breakdowns, poor mental and physical health, substance misuse, low skills, unemployment and poverty.

Libby Brown

LEAP Norwich’s Libby Brown

Norwich LEAP was set up in response to these complex, interwoven issues. Working in partnership with St Martins Housing Trust and Norwich City Council, we support the city’s homeless people by providing high quality, person-centred support within a non-judgmental, nurturing environment allowing participants to realise their potential and build a positive future.

Each client journey through LEAP is unique. With the dedicated support of an advisor responding to their changing needs and priorities, service users develop the skills to overcome real and perceived barriers to moving forward.

One person we have successfully helped is Tony. He had been battling with substance misuse issues since he was 17. He had lost two council rented properties, and had extensive experience of sofa-surfing, rough sleeping and hostels. Drug-related mental health issues had rendered him unable to work most of his adult life resulting in him having no qualifications and limited work experience.

Tony got a place in Bishopbridge House hostel, and went into recovery for his drug issues. He was then referred to us. Through LEAP, Tony undertook a Big Lottery Fund-supported personal development programme called GOALS which helped him build his self-esteem, assess his situation and help him set clear steps towards the life he really wanted.

Tony had always been interested in cooking so we supported him to start an NVQ level 2 cooking course. He was also provided with a Private Sector Leasing Scheme flat through LEAP. In addition to his training course he volunteered, teaching young people cooking skills, and held a part-time job.

Without LEAP, he thought this would not have been possible: “If it wasn’t for them I would have started this course and got kicked out. This is the first time in over 16 years that I’ve actually finished something. This is the first time I’m not on benefits and I don’t want to go back there.”

LEAP’s recent achievements include:

  • 28 people gained employment this year. Results demonstrate that employment is sustained past 3 and 6 months.
  • 18 clients have moved from supported accommodation into independent living through the Let NCC scheme, freeing up new bed spaces for homeless people.

As changes to the welfare system continue to have an impact, LEAP’s service will become even more valuable to people facing social exclusion. We’ll continue to develop our service to meet the needs of the city’s most disadvantaged people with compassion, innovation and determination.

Libby Brown is Opportunities Advisor at LEAP Norwich

What do you think of Libby’s guest blog? Has your life been changed thanks to a funded project? Leave your comments below or join in the conversation on Twitter using #biglf

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Edgar permalink
    30 August 2013 12:33 pm

    I have heard about LEAP across the homeless sector and thinks it should be congratulated on its innovative approach. I heard a service user of theirs speak at a conference, it was truly inspirational…

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      30 August 2013 12:36 pm

      Hi Edgar. Thanks for reading the blog and for leaving a comment. We enjoyed hearing about Tony’s development as a result of involvement with the project.

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