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Andrew Bills by Claire Robinson (Support Worker)
Andy came to HOPE Community Services’ Hostel on the 3rd April 2018. He is from Kirby-In-Ashfield and was brought here by a Framework Housing Association’s Street Outreach Worker, there is no other such facility within the county. All he had were the clothes that he was wearing. He had no money, no benefits, no bank account, no mobile phone, not even any form of Identification – nothing, he had lost everything.
He was homeless and sleeping rough, due to a relationship breakdown.
Andy has always worked and prior to becoming homeless he had worked at the Co-op for many years. He had to give up that job when he began rough sleeping, as he had no clean clothes to attend work in and nowhere to get a shower. He then went to the Job Centre and was told that, because he had given up his job, he was not allowed to claim benefits, and that for at least the next 26 weeks, they could do nothing for him.
This was the point Andy came to Hope. We supported him to claim for the benefits to which we was entitled, and to open a Post Office bank account. And, whilst all this was taking place, he moved into our hostel. We provided him with some clean clothes, from those we had previously received as donations from generous members of the local community.
Almost as soon as Andy arrived, he started volunteering with us – getting involved in the various activities we can provide. He even helped our staff lifting and carrying deliveries and heavy items. He did “the London Run” – he travelled in the van to pick-up the new clothes we receive from a well-known High Street chain, for our Essential Designs shop (and which he has subsequently done several times).
Andy has been a regular at the Education & Learning courses in the hostel, designed to build independent living and people’s skills and abilities. Plus, the volunteering helps build work experience and employability skills.
After 3 months, his financial position much more stable, and after settling into Hope, Andy moved into one of our shared houses, into a flat of his own with an ensuite bathrooms and shared kitchen.
He has continued to volunteer most days; he has helped greatly to redecorate the hostel and our other move-on accommodation, when flats are vacated and made ready for their next tenant. He has helped other clients to relocate, supporting them to carry their belongings up to their rooms. He has assembled furniture, renovated the gardens at the hostel and at a number of our move-on accommodation, all physically hard work. But Andy is not afraid of working up a sweat and the result is that they all look amazing and can be enjoyed by everyone there.
We do get a lot of public support at Hope, for which we are extremely grateful – those donations are fantastic and help those at their lowest ebb. Andy has worked alongside our staff to store and distribute these to those in need – food, clothes, bedding etc. He always has time to help.
The Head Office recently moved to the centre of Worksop, at 14A Bridge Street, and Andy helped with the move. He spent many days painting & decorating prior to the move, and was “Mr Shifter” as part of the transfer of desks, cupboards, chairs, etc. This has allowed Hope to begin to renovate the old Head Office, on Queen Street, into more studio flats for others who become homeless, creating more capacity so we can help more people in need.
Andy believes its now time for him to move out of Hope but, he intends to keep volunteering, which is excellent news for us, and for others who need his help and guidance. We wish him all the best going forward, and believe that he has a bright future ahead.