6 volunteers from Berkeley/ St George’s plc kindly came in over 4 days in August to help us transform the courtyard at our Brent Skylight, being very considerate to not impact our day-to-day services in the process. They also generously covered the cost and materials (estimated at around £10,000) of the re-design, transforming the courtyard into a welcoming space for members.
Brent Skylight staff commented that ‘It's made a huge difference to members to have an outside space which is safe but also a green space. Members enjoy being able to sit outside in the peace and quiet. The garden is also very well looked after by members who frequently make sure it's well watered and maintained.
The gardening group is one of the most well attended groups within the learning offer as its able to provide a wellbeing space while learning about cultivating the plants. One member referenced how important it was to him because it reminded of his family garden at home in his country, specifically his mother, and it was nice to have a positive memory.’
We wouldn’t be where we are today without the dedication, hard work and generosity of everyone who volunteers for Crisis.
Berkeley staff have also brought their expertise and enthusiasm volunteering with our Changing Lives grant panel this year.
For over 20 years Crisis has been giving out 'Changing Lives Grants' to people experiencing homelessness to help them achieve their educational and career goals through accessing further education, qualifications and employment or the opportunity to start their own business.
The Changing Lives Grants are managed by Venture Studio from Crisis, Crisis Enterprise arm which invests in businesses offering innovative and new solutions to ending homelessness. The aim of the Changing Lives Grant is to increase the recipients' access to skills, and opportunities to work.
Each year up to 50 Crisis members benefit from grants of up to £5,000 depending on their progression goals. There are four different categories of grants:
- Education: supports members to take up courses or training that leads to a recognised qualification work
- Entrepreneurship: supports those aiming to be self-employed through developing a business idea
- Employment: for members who need specific tools to take up employment
- Fast Track: for members need to access training, licences or require items to secure time-sensitive employment opportunities This is where volunteers from Berkeley have come in – to assist Crisis staff and other experts to review each application and to share insights which help the Changing Lives team decide which applicants receive a grant.
Since the grant programme launched in 2002, over 3,000 individuals have been supported to leave homelessness behind for good.
Berkeley staff have also greatly contributed to the Crisis shops and warehouse. Our shops sell great quality clothing, accessories, books, vinyl and homeware donated from the community along with furniture, restored by Crisis members accessing our services. In selected venues we also have a coffee bar selling serving drinks, including Crisis coffee.
Our shops are vital to Crisis’ work and as well as providing income, they also extend the reach of the Crisis brand which directly supports our political and fundraising campaigns against homelessness. Most importantly, they provide opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to gain work experience in various aspects of retail, build self-confidence and be active in the community in which they live. Across our London stores Berkeley volunteers have played a key role in supporting our shops team in their daily chores.
Jill, our Crisis shops Area Manager explains:
The retail shops truly depend on the generosity from their local community and corporate partnerships to support their volunteering needs. Simply without this essential support our shops would not be able to fully operate day to day and generate key funds to support our mission to end homelessness.The shops have been so thankful for all the support over the last financial year. The team enjoy getting to meet different people, to share their knowledge and experience within our retail operations and promote the amazing work we do to support our members and communities.
If you want to learn more about our partnership with the Berkeley Foundation please contact Anna.firstname.lastname@example.org