Homelessness Dec 2014

Providing Vital Bed Spaces for Highly Vulnerable People

CRASH has been working with Kairos Community Trust for many years supporting a number of their development projects. The charity has an excellent record of providing services to extremely needy and vulnerable homeless people.

The need

CRASH was approached by Kairos to support them in the extension in one of their South East London properties. They wanted additional rooms to be able to support even more vulnerable people.

The solution

We agreed to support the cause and this project will see the creation of an extension to provide two additional bedrooms bringing the total bed spaces to 10.

How patrons helped

CRASH will continue to add value to the cash grants awarded to Kairos by providing pro-bono Architectural services from Patron company Areen Design and Quantity Surveying from Balfour Beatty and Aecom and sourcing building materials free of charge materials.

The social impact

A Resident’s Story

Former soldier David is currently staying in Kairos Community Trust’s move on accommodation in South East London. Here is his story: I came to Kairos a broken man addicted to alcohol, drugs and complete chaos in my life. After leaving the Army, I bounced from job to job and one criminal conviction after another due to my drinking. After ten years I wanted to give up this chaotic life and surrender to my problems. In stepped Veterans’ Aid who sent me to Kairos. After nine months of their therapeutic, 12 step programme and aftercare I am clean and sober. I have a life beyond my wildest dreams. With their help and support I am about to embark on a college course and am starting to put my life back together. What I owe Kairos cannot be covered in a few sentences or with words. I owe them my life.

The relationship between CRASH and Kairos Community Trust

“I remember exactly when it was completed 17 March 2007.” For Mossie Lyons, director of the Kairos Community Trust, the date is hugely significant – it was when the hall at Linden Grove in Nunhead, south London, was transformed with help from CRASH.

Kairos helps people who become homeless through addiction. It has a network of 28 supported move-on houses, mostly in south London. The relationship between Kairos and CRASH goes back 13 years, starting with work on its Linden Grove building.

Mossie explains: “The phone number for CRASH was included in the development notes, so I decided to get in touch,” said Mossie. “Then the process kicked in.”

CRASH was impressed by the quality of Kairos’ work and concerned about the lack of provision in this part of London. It decided that to work with Kairos effectively it would need to invest long term. CRASH’s help has since led to cash grants of over £54,000 spread over six projects since 2008. The work has involved everything from boiler installations, painting projects, kitchen fit-outs and building extensions. Much of this was only possible with the materials donated by the likes of Baxi, Sir Robert McAlpine, Bauder, and Faber Maunsell.

But it’s not just the fundraising and the materials supplied by CRASH that Mossie values: “[CRASH} also gives professional advice. For example, Guildersfield Road is a listed building. We were able to get guidance on what would be appropriate development.” Consultant Aecom provided invaluable advice on this particular project.

The architect practice Areen Design helped out on another recent Kairos project in Eugenia Road, in London’s Surrey Quays. Here they created a community dining room and are working on plans for two further bedrooms.

Residents in Kairos accommodation find themselves homeless for a wide range of reasons, and there is no typical homeless person. “My mental health issues started, but the alcohol masked it all. That’s how I ended up on the streets, after a nervous breakdown,” says Dominic O’Gorman, support worker at Kairos. “I was a seven stone tramp full of beard, drinking on the streets of Euston. She [the street outreach worker] came and sat next to me. She explained who she was and just talked to me a little bit. After a few visits she asked me ‘do you want to get clean?’”

Dominic received support from Kairos as he found his feet. When he needed a work placement scheme to fulfill the requirements of a social care course, Kairos was more than happy to let Dominic volunteer at the home.

Turning around the fortunes of people like Dominic is the challenge facing charities such as Kairos, and for Mossie the work to improve its accommodation is vital to that aim. And he is keen to stress the important role the work of other people played to make it all happen.

We would not have done it without CRASH.

Dominic O’Gorman

Kairos Support Worker

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