In our next blog posts, we want to start a conversation about how we can work together to respond to the unmet needs in Harrogate.
These blog posts are based on a discussion paper we have put together. We’re going to be sharing some of our own findings as well as the research of other organisations.
This discussion paper is an attempt to open up the conversation on how best the Christian church and local community can serve our area, enabling everyone in Harrogate to flourish. The needs within the town and district are a cause for general concern and a reason for everyone to join in the discussion on resourcing and meeting the needs of the ‘not so’ minority that impact us all.
Please comment and share your thoughts with us, and do get in touch if you feel passionate about finding solutions to some of the problems we’ve raised in our discussion. In this blog post (part 1), we will introduce the bigger picture and the issues that we see in the lives of people visiting the Hub. Then we will focus in on some specific needs in part 2, which we’ll be publishing in the near future.
Jesus said “This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 17
CIVIL SOCIETY STRATEGY: BUILDING A FUTURE THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
This government paper was published in August (2018) and speaks about the importance of working together strategically:
“A healthy, independent and influential civil society is a hallmark of a thriving democracy. Charities and social enterprises – the social sector – are the core of civil society. A strong social sector is a sign of a strong democracy, which offers many ways in which citizens’ views and concerns can be communicated to decision-makers.
The government is keen to work alongside the social sector to build a future in which the sector can adapt and thrive, strengthen public trust, as well as find new ways to resource and deliver their work. The government is determined that charities and social enterprises should be fully confident in their right to speak in public debates.”
Introduction to the Harrogate Hub
‘Minding the Gaps’, a survey of the Harrogate area undertaken by St Mark’s Church in 2014, uncovered many needs in Harrogate, including high-risk levels of drinking, pornography, mental illness, and loneliness.
The Harrogate Hub provides a place of welcome from our centre at 39 Oxford Street. Our team of trained pastoral carers, recruited from Christian Churches in Harrogate district, provide a listening ear and non-judgmental support, befriending and walking along-side those in need. We also provide practical help, such as filling in forms and sign-posting to specialist services, churches, and community groups when relevant. We are here to help anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. The Hub is a safe space for people to find support and share the issues they may be facing.
The Harrogate Hub has been welcomed by local charities, churches, businesses, and civic organisations, and we are working alongside them to respond to the unmet needs of Harrogate. Our aim is to facilitate local churches working together with the third and public sector to help mind the gaps in provision and pool resources to serve the most vulnerable people in our community. We have good relationships with different organisations, enabling us to find service-users the best and most relevant support for them. We have sign-posted people to a variety of different support services so far, including IDAS, CAP groups, the Food Bank, and many others.
Over the past 12 months we have been serving our neighbour…
Total Number of Beneficiaries: 164 service-users over 12 months.
Primary Reasons for Visits: Between January and June 2018:
- 30% of visits were made by people primarily seeking company.
- 22% of our service-users came to the Hub primarily for support as they navigate relationship and family issues.
- 19% came in primarily for support due to mental illness.
- 7% were facing financial difficulties and were in need of signposting.
- 5% requested spiritual support or guidance.
- 4% sought advice and help for housing issues.
- 3% sought support due to (un)employment issues.
- 10% came to the Hub for other reasons, including grief and loss, assistance with form-filling, and other signposting enquiries.
Issues faced by service-users:
- Approximately 3% of our service-users have had a history of drug/alcohol abuse and have come out of rehabilitation
- Over 25% of service-users are struggling with mental health problems
- 9% of visits in June 2018 related to housing issues, 3% to unemployment and 3% to finance.
- Approximately 10% of our regular visitors are/have been in an abusive relationship.
Regularity of Support:
- Many of our beneficiaries come regularly and have a variety of complex needs. In June 2018, for example, 58% of our beneficiaries came into the Hub on a regular basis for on-going support from pastoral carers. (42% were new beneficiaries).
- Approximately 25% of our service-users have extremely complex needs and severe/chronic mental health problems. We will walk alongside these people for as long as necessary, sometimes this might be for as long as 1 to 2 years.
- We estimate that about 10% of our service-users require regular support for more than 6 months (this is not including those whose visits are highly intermittent.)
- Other service-users require only 1-3 visits in order to find the support and signposting they need.
Between January and June 2018:
- 7% of our service-users required support over the period of 1-2 months.
- 65% of visitors were first-time visitors, and 35% were return visitors. These return visitors accounted for 280 visits, which is 80% of visits. This demonstrates the great need for long-term support.
- 12% of our service-users visited the Hub on an intermittent basis, often due to the difficult and chaotic nature of their lives, and have been coming for more than 6 months.
- We estimate that 10% of our service-users came on a weekly or fortnightly basis, half of whom visited the Hub over a period of more than 3 months.
- Out of the total of 83 visits in June 2018, 77 (93%) of visit forms record that the beneficiary felt lighter in mood when they left, having received the support they needed. 5 visits recorded the person felt the same as when they came in. (These beneficiaries receive on-going support for complex needs).1 record did not say.
- 83% of forms recorded a positive answer to the question “Did we help?” (The other 17% did not leave an answer.)
- In June, we helped 20% of our service-users access support or resources from other agencies. For example, finding housing, helping with forms, signposting.
- The fact that 80% of visits (January-June 2018) were made by return visitors is a positive indicator. It shows that our service-users feel welcomed into the Hub community and are finding our support beneficial.
- 6 service-users have become happily engaged in a church of their choosing and have found community there. 2 other service users are currently talking about joining an Alpha course in the Autumn.
Signposting to Christian Church Activities in Harrogate and District – Current Church Provision
The churches across Harrogate engage in the following activities adding approximately £1,000,000 per annum to the borough’s economy.
|Christian Church Activities (by type)
|Weekly sessions across Harrogate churches
|Carer and Toddler
|Illness and Disability
Questions to explore
- Could the churches be more strategic in targeting their resources in supporting the crisis of needs within Harrogate and District?
- What can be done to help Harrogate’s Health Authority combat its issues of loneliness, isolation, and mental ill-health?
Written by Jo-Ann Hughes, Executive Director, Harrogate Hub
Special thanks to Ella Green (co-worker) and Helen Prince (Carer’s Resource) for help with compiling the discussion paper