Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Spotlight on.... The Foxton Centre

The Foxton Centre, based in Preston, UK is a very special organisation indeed. They run projects and programs aimed at helping children and teens in the community; teaching new skills to those who are at risk; outreach projects, known as Streetlink, for street sex workers (something that many groups who aim to help those on the street shy away from) and finally drop in centre for the homeless, skills workshops for the homeless and a mentoring scheme to help ensure those sleeping rough can develop the means to get themselves out of that cycle and stay out of it, for good. Simply just these actions alone make The Foxton Centre and the work they do worth highlighting and celebrating for creating real positive change for the people who live and work in the town of Preston.

I interviewed Shirah Bamber, who works in marketing and communications at The Foxton Centre for more information on the work done by the staff and volunteers at The Foxton Centre.

With thanks to Ms. Bamber

As March is 'help the homeless' month over at Project52, could you describe what services The Foxton Centre offers in aid or support of the homeless?

The Foxton Centre offers various services to homeless & vulnerably housed adults. Our largest project, Community Café, provides a hot meal for £1 (although vouchers are provided for people who are rough sleeping), shower, laundry, telephone and IT facilities, as well as social activities and a high level of support from our team of Community Social Workers.  Through the Café we provided 3004 meals in 2013.

We are currently running a campaign called Hungry which allows patrons in local cafés Ravenous & Café Fresch to donate £1 and purchase a meal for a homeless person. This campaign has been running since July 2013 and has already provided over 700 meals.

Other Projects provided for rough sleepers & vulnerably housed adults:
Our Wet Garden, has been developed to break down barriers when working with established street drinkers
 The Assertive Outreach Team ( go out a number of times a week during the day & fortnightly in the wee hours of the morning.

Finally, our GreenFingers Allotment Project has been developed by a team of volunteers & service users to develop life skills, encourage community involvement and improve health and well being.

It currently costs us £2000 per week to provide these services.

The Foxton Centre has existed in Preston for over 40 years. During this time it will have seen many changes to the services it offers and the lives of those who make use of The Foxton Centre. At present the centre has several projects in the running including Safelink, which is aimed at supporting at risk young people, StreetLink, which offers support to street sex workers, and Amity befriending, which offers support to the presently or former homeless. Are there any plans to add to the current list of projects run by The Foxton Centre?  

We increase our projects as the needs present themselves. Just last year we saw a 23% increase in the number of service users attending the Community Café, which caused us to develop the Hungry campaign. We increased our projects from 10 to 13 in the last 12 months and are currently working at capacity.

In the document "Street Sex Workers in Preston: An Evidence-Based Study" It was suggested that a Foxton Centre Charity shop could be set up to help those who take part in the StreetLink project to gain current work experience and to raise self-esteem amongst the workers. Have there been any further developments on this idea or is it still at proposal stage? 

At present it is only an idea. As with many ideas they can take a long time to come into fruition through the simple reality that we are incredibly busy with the projects and service user base we are already working with and taking on a shop would be a large commitment of time and resources.
The study can be found at:

The Foxton Centre [appears to] rely on a mixture of public donations, local business support for the free meal voucher schemes and national lottery funding besides making use of physical object donations. As we're now in Spring and heading into summer, does the list of requested physical donated items change at all with the seasons?

You are right, we are funded through a mixture of funding bodies (including the Big Lottery, but also Comic Relief, Children in Need, Esme Fairhurst, to name just a few) and local donations of money and supplies.

There are some requirements that stay the same all year round, such as toiletry items (soap, shampoo, disposable razors, etc) and others change with the seasons (ie. Sunscreen, winter coats, etc).

As we go further into 2014 are there any changes you hope to see at The Foxton Centre, whether that is an increase in projects or services offered, or an increase in public donations and support of The Foxton Centre itself... what would those be?

This year my personal goal at The Foxton Centre is to develop formal partnerships with local businesses. We began 2014 with a strong new partnership with Magma Digital and hope that the year will continue as it began!

We are also getting ready to host our 2nd Annual Evening Fundraiser at St. John, The Minster (on Church Street), which is an evening of live entertainment, 2 course meal and complimentary glass of wine for £25, and hope that this year we will attract a wider audience of supporters.

And finally, is there anything you would like to ask of the readers of this interview to do in the future, either towards those who attend The Foxton Centre or vulnerable individuals at large in the world?  

There are so many ways to help vulnerable people, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. We try to make it easy for you, and I’m certain that charities in other areas would be happy to discuss potential ideas if you live elsewhere. What can seem like a little thing to you can make such a difference in someone’s life.

Some of the ways people like to get involved with us is through donating to our Hungry campaign, donating an hour or two of expertise, becoming a regular (or occasional!) volunteer, attending our fundraising events or organizing an office fundraiser such as a bake sale, or casual day. It doesn’t need to be big or complicated to have an impact.

Thank you to Shirah for taking part in the interview and thank you to all of the staff and volunteers at The Foxton Centre for all your hard work, time and dedication from myself and on behalf of the readers of Project52 blog. 

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