This December, each of our stores has chosen a charity close to their hearts to support during these hard times. We will be helping to raise funds to help others with in-store events and donation points in store, so do good this festive period and donate in one of our stores to help others in need.
Our Dalston store is supporting:
A charity that runs a drop-in centre based in Stoke Newington (N16) for the homeless and those in needy circumstances, and are funded by donations and rely on volunteers to operate. They give meals weekly to those in need and need your donations to help continue their amazing work for the local homeless community.
NLAH is visited periodically by Health Workers, as well as a local hairdresser who regularly volunteers and Eastern European outreach workers, a TB specialist, Drug and Alcohol workers.
Our Cheshire Street store is supporting:
Give us a snapshot of the work Spectra does.
Spectra works to improve the choices, health and well-being of people, often from diverse and marginalised communities, empowering positive, informed choices about health, including sexual health, emotional resilience and wellbeing, and working with to combat isolation and risk.
We provide supportive, knowledgeable, non-judgemental services which are all peer-led, meaning they are delivered by people from the communities we work with themselves. We are proactive in identifying the needs of all our clients and supporting them.
We aim for knowledgeable, aware and empowered individuals and communities who have clear, accurate, credible and non-judgemental wellbeing and health information and quality services that are relevant and accessible.
What inspired you to get involved with the charity?
This is from the viewpoint of myself as Operations Manager – Having worked in the world of Advertising up until June of 2017, while volunteering with GMI, one of the projects Spectra works with in conjunction with Positive East and METRO Charity, as a Sexual Health Outreach Worker, providing on-site HIV Tests in venues, I was made redundant. After a bit of a break, in which time I had volunteered more, an opportunity to work with Spectra as Operations Manager came available, I interviewed and the rest they say is history.
In addition to the day to day operational aspects of the role, I have had the chance to be involved at grassroots delivery, and have found this immensely rewarding, both personally and professionally.
Being able to use my skillset from my previous career has been valuable in raising awareness of the charity, and being able to promote it and its work to sectors that might not have been aware if its existence and what it does. We have a heritage of over 25 years, having started out as the West London Gay Men’s Project (WLGMP) in Hounslow in the 80s, and something that is valued in the communities we serve.
For me personally, this is more of a vocation than a job, and realise we have so much more work to do, not just with regards to Sexual Heath, but tolerance, education and an array of issues for the Trans identifying communities, and the stigma and discrimination still faced today.
What are your hopes for the charity in 2020?
Our hopes for 2020 are to ensure we continue to serve the communities that need us. Our Trans services have increased with the addition of Peer Mentoring, additional social group activities and counselling provision. On top of this, we will be able to help more LGBTQ identifying young people with counselling and social group activity, thanks to additional funding from non-statutory funders. Additionally, we hope to raise our profile in the sector, so a wider audience are aware of the services available from Spectra. Thanks to initiatives by champions like Beyond Retro, during December, this helps to widen our reach.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the LGBTQ+ community.
We believe one of the biggest issues still faced by the LGBTQ+ community is stigma and discrimination. In our interaction with the different factions of the communities, we see this still being an issue, no matter how much there is belief things have improved for minority communities. While encouraging people to take care of their sexual health, as they would their general health, there is still unawareness of how easy it is to get tested for HIV and & STI’s and this stems from poor knowledge, bad experiences and lack of education. Something we strive to challenge.
What can people do to help?
Apart from donations, which people can do at https://spectra-london.org.uk/donate/ we would as people to follow us on our social media channels, https://www.facebook.com/SpectraLondon, https://twitter.com/Spectra_London and https://www.instagram.com/spectra_london/ to get the attest information on what we do with regards to HIV testing but also for information on issues facing the community that need support and awareness-raising. Additionally, we have a need for volunteers, and people are always encouraged to contact u for information on becoming a volunteer with us, with more details available at https://spectra-london.org.uk/volunteer/#volform
Our Soho Store is supporting:
Beyond the Streets partner with women on their journey out of sexual exploitation. We want to see a world where people are free from sexual exploitation, and where those in prostitution have the option to pursue genuine alternatives, free from constraints such as poverty, drug dependency, and abuses of vulnerability. Working directly with women selling sex to support them to find routes out of prostitution as well as equipping and supporting other projects across the UK to tackle the sexual exploitation that happens in every community.
We want to see women not defined by their past but energised by their future. Our work maps out possibilities with her and joins her on her journey as she walks towards the goals she sets. We champion belief in change and a better future. We celebrate women overcoming adversity and overcoming the barriers which would hold them back.
We know that those most in need don’t get the treatment they deserve. We work with those on the frontline – Police, Social Workers, Health Professionals – to improve women’s experience of seeking support. We think every woman deserves to be met with a compassionate response. We know that the injustice we respond to is not isolated, but part of a much bigger picture –a local expression of the global injustice of violence against women that preys on the vulnerability of women in every community.
We will not stop fighting against sexual exploitation. We fight on until every individual is free to thrive, free from sexual exploitation.
Our Brighton Store is supporting:
Mind in Brighton and Hove works to promote good mental health in across Sussex. They seek to empower people to lead a full life as part of their community. As an independent charity and receive no funding from the National Mind charity, so your donations support our work across Sussex.
Our vision is of a society that promotes and protects good mental health for all and that treats people with experience of mental health issues fairly, positively, supportively and with respect.
Our mission is to provide a range of advice and information, advocacy and support services to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem to live a full life and play a full part in society. We will also work to improve local services, raise awareness and promote mental health and wellbeing through a variety of means.
Empowerment: we work for the empowerment of individuals and communities and support people to contribute meaningfully to the design and provision of services to enable positive change
Innovation: we believe in seeking innovative responses to the needs of people with mental health issues, based on the initiatives that people want and that positively challenge the status quo
Partnership: we work with individuals, groups and other organisations to achieve a more integrated system of mental health provision which builds resilience and wellbeing in the community
Effectiveness: our skilled staff strive to meet the needs of the communities we serve with integrity and transparency
Mindful Employer: we respect and value the skills and knowledge of our staff and volunteers. We value the diversity of our workforce and are committed to equality.
You can donate by heading into our Brighton store, or Donate by text. Simply text MIBH01 followed by the amount you wish to donate (eg £10) to 70070 to make your donation by text.
Our Bristol store is supporting:
Give us a snapshot of the work Caring in Bristol does.
Caring in Bristol want to create a city empowered to solve homelessness. We work in imaginative and creative ways with people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, with our community to bring about sustainable and permeant change in Bristol and beyond!
We run the 365 Shelter an emergency night shelter open every night of the year, Caring at Breakfast that provides breakfast for those in emergency shelters at restaurants around the city and we also run the South Wests biggest Christmas homelessness project that shelters up to 60 people each night and feeds over 300 people each day over Christmas and New Year. This year I’m really excited about our collaboration with Bristol chefs and restaurants, every meal served in our shelters will be cooked by different chefs or restaurant team, we’re trying to bridge the gap between the luxuries our city has and affords and what is available to those in crisis. We’re all about giving people more than just what they need, but giving people rich and amazing experiences too.
What inspired you to get involved with the charity?
I’ve always worked in the non-profit sector because I can’t work on anything that isn’t cause-led, I want to change the world! But seriously it’s because I’m really passionate about working to alleviate poverty. There is an amazing book by Danny Dorling called “Inequality and the 1%” which I found eye-opening and terrifying and I knew that that’s what I wanted to be involved in – a decade on and I’m still here.
I have a rule where I only want to work for charities and organisations where the aim is to make our job obsolete and to put us out of work. And by that I mean it’s really important to me that where I’m working is really trying to solve the issue they’re working with, is thinking systemically, and using research-led decisions and not just using it as a vehicle to push their own agenda/ ego or maintain a cashflow. So every strategic move we make at Caring in Bristol we ask ourselves ‘will this truly help solve homelessness and be the first step to putting us out of work’. And I simply won’t work for anyone who comes up with an idea that isn’t a client of beneficiary focused – I promise I’m actually fun to be around at the pub (eek).
What are your hopes for your Christmas campaign?
As I work on the Communications and Campaigns my hope is that as many people in Bristol hear about what we’re doing as possible. Not just as an ego trip because I think it is great, because part of empowering people to solve homelessness is showing everyone that they are part of the bigger picture and helping create change. So whether that’s knowing there’s somewhere you can direct people to in crisis, or knowing that as a city we can do much more than hand out cold sandwiches to people on the street, knowing that people in crisis who are vulnerable deserve to experience every part of Bristol that we do, knowing that the knowledge you have about an issue is an amazing way of fighting it and knowing that your donations will be used effectively and importantly I hope that afterwards, I’m able to report back about how much impact the support of Bristol has made, I’m a big advocate for financial transparency in the charity sector. Our supporters deserve it.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the homeless community in Bristol?
Quite simply that there isn’t anywhere near enough affordable accommodation. I’m a massive advocate for much more social housing. 97% of those experiencing homelessness in Bristol aren’t sleeping rough, they are hidden in untenable and poor temporary accommodation, sometimes in whole young families waiting on a list for a social tenancy to become available, sometimes for years. Until we find a place for that entire 97 % (roughly 2,200 people) to live, we can’t move those who are in the most unforgivable and unacceptable state of homelessness in our city, rough sleeping, into safe accommodation as there isn’t enough emergency accommodation, and spaces tend to go to those who are more stable (as they are more likely to use their emergency bed space). 40% of those in our 365 Shelter are in work, but temporary or 0-hour contract jobs with no security. The most common life experience for those sleeping rough in Bristol is that they’ve most likely experienced childhood trauma and abuse – so if we look at those currently on our street as those who have been abused and are struggling to cope instead of just people who don’t have homes, we might be able to work more effectively as a city to create services for their needs.
What can Bristolians do to help?
Look at the systemic causes as to why people are experiencing homelessness – if you are a white male from the South West with a University education, and no children, you are 0.6% likely to become homeless before you’re 30. But if you are a mixed-race woman, brought up by a single parent, who’s experienced childhood poverty, you have children and you’re a renter, you’re 71.2% likely to become homeless before you’re 30. Knowing all of that helps arm you and might even impact the way you vote.
You can also volunteer your time at our 365 Shelter and our Caring at Christmas project, it’s an amazingly effective way to see and meet who you’re helping to support. It’s easy to sign up in a couple of minutes on our website: https://caringinbristol.co.uk/volunteer-this-christmas/