News: Why is activity so important?

Steve Huddlestone, Recovery Programme Co-ordinator at The Connection

The path back from rough sleeping is never straightforward. Simply giving someone a bed, a flat or a place to stay often isn’t enough on its own. Worn down over a long period of time by the experience of being homeless it’s essential to address people’s emotional needs.

Steve Huddleston is the Activities Co-ordinator at The Connection at St Martin’s. His job is to make sure that people have access to a range of groups that provide new skills, restore confidence and improve people’s ability to cope with the things that life throws at all of us. He’s taken some time out of his very busy schedule to answer some questions on his role at The Connection.

What activity groups do you provide?

We have a daily art room which is very popular. We also have talking groups, including an anger discussion group and another to support people with problem gambling. We have a mindfulness session to help people relax and focus, and a support group for women. We have a department focused on digital inclusion so people can improve their IT skills. Plus, we have a newly formed gardening group.

“Everyone has a skill, an interest or a talent. Many have experiences to share from being on the streets that can help others”

Why is activity so important?

Everyone has a skill, an interest or a talent. Many have experiences to share from being on the streets that can help others. Let’s face it – surviving on the streets demonstrates a real skill and determination. Giving people a chance to share their knowledge can help people see their true potential again, and also just how resilient they are. I think everyone’s contribution toward collective projects, their advice when helping friends, colleagues or neighbours can make you feel empowered. Our group work programme offers that chance to people, who can quite often become marginalised from mainstream society when on the streets.

Do you notice a difference in people?

Yes, we do and it’s clearly fed back to us that the groups are a really important part of people’s recovery. But changes in people are often subtle. For example, in the art room it’s not the picture that evidences change but it’s the process of creating art that is so beneficial. People tell us that art has given them focus again and enabled them to see themselves in a different light.

If you’d like to find out more about The Connection’s activity groups, please visit The BBC Radio 4 Christmas Appeal webpage.

We are so grateful for the support that we receive for our work with homeless people, enabling us to run empowering programmes to help them on their journey into stable accommodation. If you would be willing to consider making a donation, please visit the BBC Radio 4 Appeal donation page.