Cornerstone Day Centre
One thing that strucks me is the uniqueness of all the people I come in contact with. Some are brought to the Centre due to loneliness, rejection and some seek to be loved. Working with these has been a valuable experience. I have discovered new skills and abilities, especially one to calm a tense situation and neutralise an agitated person. I have also realised my skill of dealing with difficult and impossible clients.
Well, its all about the will to move out of our comfort zone...
Cornerstone Day Centre is a drop in for the homeless of Manchester. We work with people from all walks of life, suffering from rejection, poverty, alienation and drug and alcohol problems.We also offer support to substance misusers, the mentally ill and socially isolated people. It mainly comprises of homeless and otherwise marginalised adults over 18 years of age
Offers cooked meals, showers, haircuts, advice with benefits, housing and clothing. This has lead to an increase in clients moving to settled housing, rehabilitation centres and the labour market. The running cost for the centre is about £300,000. Without the wonderful and dedicated volunteers, the cost would atleast be double. The project is mainly funded by Salford Roman Catholic Diocese, diocesan parishes and schools, and a small number of national and local trusts.
Cornerstone Day Centre was triggered by the number of homeless people knocking on our presbyteries and convents, asking for food and money. It started in 1990 in a small cabin offering meals and good as new clothing to alcohol abusers, as well as drug abusers, recovering mentally ill people and socially isolated people. The centre is about two kilometres from Manchester city centre (in the south west sector of inner city Manchester).
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
The aim of the centre is to bring people off the street, feed them and assist them with dignity during their recovery. We receive support from Housing Outreach and Direct Access Support. Probation staff and a range of professionals use Cornerstone as a contact centre. Officers from the local authority’s Homeless Persons Service use Cornerstone facilities to contact, interview and assess street homeless candidates and others with no settled address. We attend to between 200 and 250 people each day.
What interventions are you using to address the problem? Advice and support for the homeless. setting them up with benefits and accomodation. Getting them into detox facilities and registering them with their local doctors. For eastern europeans who are ready to go back home, we assist them with applying for new travel documents and airfares back home. We also give food parcels to struggling families and assist them with applying for services such as crisis loans to help them through their tough times.
What outcomes or planned outcomes are you measuring? We aim to mitigate the effect of street homelessness, promote health, encourage clients to address addiction and addictive behaviours, and facilitate access to statutory services. In the statutory sector a day centre serving up to 200 clients each day would cost upwards of £500 000. With less than one third of that amount coming into our coffers we are forced to prioritise and it is the ‘back office’ function which is underdeveloped. We record data on outputs, but in respect of outcomes we are limited to anecdotal evidence and the powerful testimony of a growing number of clients. This has resulted in a steady stream of clients move into settled housing, rehabilitation centres and even occasionally return to the labour market. We estimate that in addition to the tenancies secured by the specialist housing officers referred to above, Cornerstone staff secure a further 30 tenancies per annum in the social housing and private sector. Cornerstone is not aimed at any particular Government policy, but our project supports crime reduction strategies, promotes sensible drinking and is part of community safety networks and anti-drugs policies.
Some of the obstacles we face is the absence not only of statutory funding but of official involvement in the set-up period; The continuing lack of official funding to assist with recording revenue; and the initial hostility of our neighbours to the location of the centre.
the project is very simple, delivering advice on healthy eating, personal hygiene, enhancing self-image, and providing access to helping agencies, such as housing, social services and benefits agencies. We have learned as much from our mistakes as we have from the things we have managed to get right; such logic suggests that we would have done very little differently. Perhaps now we know the extent of the demand, we will have to seek larger premises and, given the wear and tear imposed on our building by over 200 visitors every day, a building made from more robust materials is ideal.
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