People At Risk

What do we support?

We make grants to organisations that help people at risk to access support they themselves want and need, to secure permanent accommodation, regain economic independence and reconnect with vital family and social networks. Over several years, we have directed help to homelessness projects which recognise that providing housing is only part of the solution, and therefore provide a range of additional support services and relief in line with the individual’s own aspirations for a better future.

In this and the Sustainable Development category, we aim to support projects that pioneer fresh approaches. These include self-help and peer support groups, education and training, and the provision of sustainable employment and work experience for people at risk. We have been especially concerned for struggling young people, preventing early signs of risk developing into long term health, substance abuse and homelessness problems.

What kind of projects have we funded?

Support Action Net

In 2003 we commissioned Dreams Deferred from the social research company Lemos & Crane, a searching report that identified homeless people’s own aspirations as essential for overcoming risk and achieving personal development, and the need for charities and public services alike to centre their working on the needs of people in the round, rather than the particular support they were offering. This led to the creation of Support Action Net, a network of agencies working with people at risk enabling them to work more mutually, share good practice and new ideas, with toolkits for frontline workers, raising awareness of effective approaches, training and organisational development. Steadily the principles of Dreams Deferred and a more closely connected network of organisations, projects and practitioners have strengthened those in the field to face changing conditions, policy and newly emerging risk with approaches that to this day always place the person at the forefront of solving problems.

Growing for Life

Eden Project in 2008 helped HMP Dartmoor to convert some of its yards by the resettlement wing – the old solitary confinement block - into organic vegetable and flower growing plots. This led to the establishment of arable farming at an organic farm in Torbay, worked by prisoners on day release, as they gained valuable qualifications and work experience for after they left prison. A partnership with homelessness charities led to the creation of growing projects at over 80 charities working with people at risk all over the country, supplying the plants for award-winning show gardens, designed and planted up by the prisoners, at the Chelsea Flower Show two years running and now the greening of the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank. Now in the hands of Plymouth’s Shekinah Mission, Growing for Life works with a number of prisons in South West England and, through the sustained network of the many other People at Risk charities, provides accredited training for prisoners and formerly homeless people in horticulture and agriculture skills, as well as work opportunities for resettlement around the country.

Single Homeless Project

SHP runs a dozen house and homely hostels, and many more projects and floating support services, to help people reduce harm from drug-taking, poor mental health and linked offending, to overcome factors in their lives leading to homelessness and to build up life-skills and fulfilled, independent living. We have been helping with the development of the hostels’ gardens as relaxing and enjoyable spaces matching the therapeutic approach within, where tenants grow their own fruit and vegetables, learn the value of nutritious and tasty food of their own making, and build their skills of resilience, sustained tasks through gardening, working with others and raising confidence and independent living.

St Christopher’s Fellowship

Based in south and west London, but also working around the country, “St Chris” is a charity meeting the needs of vulnerable children and young people since 1870. But a very contemporary idea appealed to us. The Wrap Challenge, set by young people themselves, has been to embark on information film-making and come up with advice from their peers in a style and communications format that young people at risk will take. Films so far include Safeguarding, Missing Persons, Diversity, Housing Options for 16-17s, and transitioning to independence. The Wrap films, and others that St Chris has developed since in the light of them, can be view on YouTube:

Cardinal Hume Centre

Basil Hume, Catholic archbishop of Westminster 1976-99, set up the Centre that later bore his name in a recently closed convent in to meet the needs of vulnerable young people and their children drawn to the centre of London with very little to support them. In recent years, we have helped CHC to streamline its many projects into a unified, person-centred service, opening access to health support, language, literacy and training, hostel accommodation, halfway-housing, child and family support, and advice and help into work and housing. Our current grant helps CHC to play its part collaboratively with other services and agencies, as one of the few in London offering specialists advice and tailored-support to young people at risk.

Dens, Hemel Hempstead

Dens offers shelter to rough sleepers and a day centre and support services to those trying to get out of homelessness into sustained tenancies and employment. Its projects include Rent Aid, counselling and advice, the “Education, Training, Employment” service, a food bank and a furniture recycling enterprise. We are helping with a new enterprise operated by service users: a Rental Cleaning and Decoration service to private and social landlords.

The Maya Centre, Archway

A grant towards work with vulnerable women at risk of violence, abuse and resulting homelessness, offering alternatives to the criminal justice system with sustained psychological support and counselling in a safe environment.

Colne Open Door Centre

CODC does not just give 1200 free meals and 700 food parcels away a year in East Lancashire. Its volunteers help people, especially those who have had benefits cut or temporarily withdrawn, to make claims, lodge appeals and budget with little income, so that they do not lose their housing and are able to feed their families. And when there are those who are permanently unsuccessful in obtaining vouchers for food vouchers and energy tokens – often people with care or disability needs - the Centre draws on its charity reserves to help those most at risk. This is the fund we are helping with.

New Opportunities and Horizons: NOAH Enterprise, Luton

NOAH is a long standing friend of Ashden Trust’s. in 2001 it set up a social enterprise, involving service users in a furniture and white good recycling and refurbishment business, that enable new tenants, or social landlords, as well as the general public to kit out their homes with the basics and also buy good as new second-hand furniture at an affordable price. From 2011 we helped NOAH to establish an advice service for local employers taking and support formerly long-term homeless staff, with a corresponding mentoring service to support the employees themselves in their new jobs. Our most recent grant is to expand the outreach and increase capacity at the emergency night shelter, especially in view of the rising numbers of young adult rough sleepers