The Brick Homeless Project
The Brick aims to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We help people move from crisis to a more settled way of life through practical help, confidence building and giving them the opportunity to make better life choices.
The Brick Project has now been operating for four years. In this time, we have developed and redeveloped our services many times to find exactly what works with the local homeless popula-tion and we are still learning.We developed initially out of a need to have an intermediary service between the Council and rough sleepers, who, lets face it are not always easy people to deal with.From 2003 we have been forging links with homeless people, endeavouring to let them know that there is someone who cares about them and that when they are ready to move on there is someone to help them.The Brick was housed in the old Bricklayers Arms in Hallgate from 2008 and this is where it got it's name. In April 2013 we moved to Rowbottom Square behind Library Street in the centre of Wigan and have gone from being merely a drop-in to becoming a place where people are actively encouraged to participate in all we have to offer in the way of life skills and being supported to make a change.
We offer a hot lunch to those participating in the training and we all sit down as a family. Very often we are the closest that some people have had as a family for years, and we encourage good manners and respect for each other. There are usually several clients volunteering to clear and wash up after lunch and we feel that this is an important part of being included. We have had many successes recently with housing difficult clients and this is in no small part because of better joint working with Housing, Health and Solicitors.
Most of our work is unsung but we spend a lot of time listening to people and this helps someone who is usually passed over and ignored to feel valued. This may also lead to hearing about a small issue, which, if left unresolved might mean that they could lose their tenancy or have a big impact on their health. It is this service which saves money in the long term for statutory services but is so easy to give. We also make phone calls for clients, which again We find a holistic approach to a client’s journey usually has the best effect, as it is rare that housing someone alone will put an end to their problems.
We also run a very successful food parcel scheme; drawing in the local community which seems to have taken us to their hearts. We have accepted donations of dried and tinned food from Churches, Schools, businesses and individuals and we are constantly sur-prised how it keeps flowing in. The scheme was initially for our cli-ents that were finding it difficult to manage, but because of the generosity of the community, we have rolled the scheme out to other Agencies in the Borough that deal with vulnerable and destitute people. When our clients are successful in se-curing a tenancy, very often they move in with just the clothes they stand up in. To ensure that they suc-ceed in a tenancy we work to help them first of all get their gas and electricity set up and working, then we obtain the basic necessities for them. This includes things like a kettle, a microwave, light bulbs, cleaning equipment, a duvet and bedding and a food parcel. This tides them over until we can get furniture delivered to them and can make the difference between wanting to succeed and actually wondering if they are better off at all. We then work with them over the next few months to ensure that they integrate into the community and are able to succeed in their tenancy.
Our Help Shop in Gidlow Lane provides them with furniture and we work with them to make their space look like a home. Through-out all this we visit them and they continue to visit the project until they can stand on their own feet. With some, this is a few weeks but with others this can take months, but all the time we are there to offer help and support.