Activity groups to help people build the confidence and resilience they need to build new lives
The path back from rough sleeping is never straightforward. Often, simply giving someone a bed or place to stay is not enough; we also need to address people’s emotional needs and help them cope with the psychological effects of homelessness.
One of the ways we do this is through our Recovery Programme – a range of activity groups which encourage clients to improve their well-being, discover new interests, learn new skills and increase their confidence and self-esteem. Our current groups include:
• The ever-popular art room
• Digital skills
• Creative writing
• Book and film club
• Music workshops
• Women’s groups
• Talking groups to help with addressing problems like anger or gambling.
The Recovery Programme is a very important part of our strengths-based approach. It helps people to recognise or rediscover their strengths, interests and talents, which we know is an important step in moving on to a meaningful, fulfilling life.
Steve Huddleston coordinates the activity groups at The Connection. Here, he explains why activity is such an important part of what we do:
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 when they get involved in our groups?
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.
Ron had a long history of living on the streets as a well as alcohol and drug misuse. He had not slept inside, apart from emergency shelters, for over a year when he agreed to access our Emergency Accommodation and start working with us in early 2018.
The gardening group offered Ron a meaningful way to spend his time whilst working on securing benefits and applying for hostel accommodation. It also suited Ron perfectly, as he didn’t like staying inside for long periods so it seemed fitting to invite him to join the group outside.
Ron said that taking part in the Gardening gave him a purpose. He said he felt like he was giving back to society rather than just sitting around. He enjoyed the feeling of making the area more ‘green’ and regularly got compliments on his work from passers-by, which added to the sense of pride in what he was doing in the gardening group.
Ron now lives in supported accommodation.