We help anyone who turns up, no referrals are needed to receive assistance. Most of us need a helping hand at some time in our lives and so we try to extend a welcome to everyone. The majority of people who come to us are men, a few are women, and often we see families. Our service users are from all ethnic backgrounds.
A number of our service users are homeless in some sense – rough sleepers, sleeping on floors of friends etc. The others do have their own place but are not far from being homeless ie they find it very hard to make ends meet and have great difficulty paying for rent, basic services such as electricity and gas, and food.
Some of the people who come to us for help are long-term users of our services, they may have special problems such as addictions or mental illness which make it difficult for them to move on. Others only need our services for a short time – maybe they have been driven to seek help for themselves or their families because of sudden economic problems or other emergencies.
Here are a few of their stories, the names have been changed:
- John has been coming to us on an occasional basis for several years. He sleeps rough outside offices in the city centre where his presence is tolerated. He is currently unwilling to seek long-term help. We provide him with food, clothing etc, when requested, to meet his immediate needs, and try to encourage him.
- Jani came to this country from Romania with her family a few years ago. Things did not go well for them. Jani’s husband is in prison and she struggles to bring up their three children on her own. She comes to Good Shepherd Ministry to receive food assistance when things are particularly difficult for her.
- Fred comes to us frequently for emergency assistance. He is a middle-aged man with family in the area, but his addiction to alcohol and mental health problems prevent him leading a stable life and he is occasionally homeless. We support him as best we can, encouraging him to seek long-term help.
- Mary and her husband have five children. He has been unemployed for a long time and they survive on benefits. They are struggling to adjust to recent changes in the benefits system. We help them by providing special family food packages and other necessities such as toiletries