At Christmas many of us spend time with family and loved ones; sharing gifts and filling our tummies with a richness of festive food. But Christmas is also a time for thinking and caring for others less fortunate. We asked St Martins Housing Trust, a Norwich-based charity, to explain about their work with homelessness in our community.
St Martins was founded in 1972 and for many years their only project was the Nightshelter in one of the city’s many former churches. However, as General Manager Derek Player explains the charity had to grow and diversify to succeed. “The old Nightshelter was a “one size fits all” response to the issue of single homeless people, mostly men, in Norwich. St Martins provided friendly faces, a roof, a bed and hot food……but we weren’t getting to the causes of people’s homelessness”. The services St Martins now provides, he says, are now carefully developed around an assessment of every single person the charity deals with. “We now have well-designed routes of homelessness for our service users, many of which end in tenancies in the community.”
The nature of homelessness has changed since the early 1970’s with alcohol and drugs now much more prominent and mental health issues now much better understood. Nevertheless St Martins has held firm to its basic mission: “to enable everyone to achieve their full potential and a greater level of independence.
Our thanks to St Martins Housing Trust for sharing with us, and we wish to express our appreciation of the wonderful work they do with the homeless.
We hope you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year; Please do try to give consideration to those less fortunate than us and resolve to help where you can.
The NorfolkPlaces team.
The image on this article is of the The Marigold Café at Webster Court, which is named after Alvin Braithwaithe a.k.a “Marigold” who died in 2015, age 74. A long-time resident at St Martins Alvin was a popular sight in Norwich as he directed traffic – wearing his marigold gloves.