[Jerome Whittingham, Editor]
RHM is a registered charity, and has been working in Hull for about 7 years. Its mission is to restore people who are living chaotic lives, especially those in the grip of addiction and dependency, many of whom are homeless or living in the city’s hostels.
The charity is directed by Paul Linley, who has much experience of the needs of people in this sector. In the last couple of years the charity has established some very firm working relationships with other organisations. RHM oversees counselling to clients by accommodating student counsellor placements from East Riding College, some of these students have stayed with RHM as volunteer counsellors after qualifying. Selby Street Mission in west Hull now hosts RHM’s office and counselling space, providing additional support for visitors to the Mission’s food bank, drop-ins, and showering facilities. Finally, for homeless clients that are ready and actively engaging with recovery, RHM now works with the Methodist Church’s International House to offer a number of rooms in supported accommodation. This partnership-working approach is delivering numerous positive outcomes.
Paul explains: “Taking on these counselling students, we’ve really been able to help people in desperate need with their mental health problems. Some of our clients are also homeless and in terrible destitution, so it’s great that we can also offer a small number of people rooms at International House. We’re giving stability to 10 people that have been living very chaotic lives. We’re friendly and we’re open, we accept anyone and everyone. The people that come to us soon feel like they belong to a community, that helps them make relationships. We provide them with a safe place in which they can build their self-esteem and self-worth. They get the encouragement they need and can be part of society again.”
The partnerships RHM has developed have given the charity a solid foundation, becoming a prominent provider of addiction recovery support in the city. The counselling placements have been key in allowing the charity to make such an impact on their clients. Initially RHM offered student counsellor placements to 3 people, but early success saw this number rise to 6 placements, and the clients are clearly benefitting.
Lizzie Paterson was a student studying for a counselling qualification with East Riding College. She completed her required 100 placement hours with RHM, and is now a fully qualified counsellor. She has stayed with RHM, currently offering her counselling skills voluntarily to clients. She is passionate about continuing her work with the charity.
Lizzie says: “The work here is really worthwhile, I see that the clients get a real lot out of it. The people that come here don’t have homes, and people, and support networks around them, the things that we all take for granted. I’ve been working with RHM for about a year and a half, some of my clients I’ve had 30 or 40 hours with, some of the success stories have been just amazing. People have gone from thinking there is no hope and no way forward, to starting to build good relationships with people, and start to get their lives back on track, to trust in themselves and just keep building on it.”
Lizzie’s delight in her success with RHM is amplified by Tal Raven, Counselling Tutor at East Riding College: “We are delighted to be working with RHM, it has been a very fruitful partnership. Our students have accessed very valuable placement opportunities, working with real clients. Our students are supported and encouraged in the volunteering, and our teaching staff work really well with RHM.”
The partnership with Selby Street Mission has also strengthened RHM’s work, the Mission has built an extra counselling room within the premises, and there are further plans for more refurbishment being explored too. Helping to direct the work of Selby Street Mission is Sue Trotter, one of a very small team of mission enablers volunteering with the Methodist Church to make this often overlooked part of the city a better place for residents to live.
A few years ago Selby Street Mission started a job club, aiming to help people into work. Whilst there were successes, several people were offered casual jobs with supermarkets for example, there were many disappointments too. “Many people were just not ‘job ready’, they were suffering from addictions to alcohol and to drugs,” says Sue. “We realised that we needed somebody who could come in and help people out of addictions, out of the problems that were stopping them from living. We decided to work in partnership with Paul at RHM, and it’s been brilliant.”
Sue explains further: “We know that once we get people onto RHM courses and counselling, they then have an opportunity for a room at International House. We can see the progression – somebody comes in off the street, through the addictions counselling, then gets a room, then gets a job.”
Few people can ‘get back on track’ without the stability of having a place they can call home, a place to feel safe and secure, in which they can be themselves, dealing with personal issues at their own pace, but with guidance and support. International House, another Methodist Church project in west Hull, now offers a small number of rooms to RHM clients, knowing that RHM will provide dedicated support to residents.
Kathryn Davis, manager and support worker at International House, explains why they are willing to partner with RHM: “Paul understands what we’re about. 10 of our rooms are given to First Steps. These are people who have identified that they want to change their lives. So Paul came on board, and RHM have helped massively. Once people are in the house, Paul will do a care plan with them as part of their recovery aims. Then RHM provide groups, such as a 12-step course, and counselling opportunities, as well as social events – they’re a morale boost as well. RHM provides these people with ‘discipline’ and ‘structure’. Paul has his expectations of the residents, and the residents know what these are, as RHM set very clear boundaries. In terms of conquering dependencies, it’s a slow slow process, but I can see a real difference in the residents from the day they come in. The difference RHM makes to people is immense, getting people back on track and going in the right direction. It takes as long as it takes, but we’re happy with that, because our residents are in a better place, more motivated. So yes, RHM’s counselling support is definitely good for them. They’re becoming happy, healthy and content people that will conquer their issues, and move on in life.”
We often hear that society is breaking down, and that communities are increasingly divided. To see joined-up working of this sort, by RHM and its partners, is refreshing. This partnership is providing a ‘road map’ out of despair for the people that they encounter. Each partner organisation also benefits, sharing skills and resources, reducing stress upon staff and volunteers, and sustaining their work despite increasing financial challenges. The issues and problems encountered in the homelessness sector will be answered by ‘solutions people’ such as these.
For more information about the work of RHM, Registered Charity Number: 1150229: