Fresh Start

Fresh Start is a runner up and won £500 of Good Neighbour funding during our 2016 campaign.

What is Fresh Start?

Fresh Start is an Edinburgh charity helping people who have experienced homelessness to set up a new home and resettle into the community. The charity’s mission is “to help people make a home for themselves”.

In Edinburgh around 4,000 households become homeless each year, with situations including relationship breakdown; leaving an institution; or losing a job and being evicted by the landlord. For many people without the safety net of family, friends or financial security, they will end up in a hostel, B&B, sleeping on friends’ sofas, in temporary accommodation or even sleeping on the streets.

With the support of volunteers, churches and the wider community, Fresh Start offers a range of services to people who are setting up their new home after this very difficult period of their lives. Support is provided in three key areas:

Providing Goods: Giving household starter packs to help people set up their home, avoid debt and feel comfortable. People are moving into empty shells with nothing, and so the packs provide the everyday household items needed to turn a house into a home – bedding, crockery, pots and pans, towels etc. Around 2,000 households a year receive packs, with the support of churches, businesses and local people donating goods. Around 100 cookers a year are also given out so people have the ability to make hot meals.

Social and Practical Support: For many people, the initial help with goods when they first move in is all they need, and they can move on. But for some of the most isolated and vulnerable people, they need support to be able to live independently in their home. Fresh Start’s clients have a variety of support needs: a third of the women they work with have been a victim of domestic violence; over 65% of clients have mental health issues; and around 30% of people supported are aged between 16-25. New tenants are offered a variety of social and practical support activities to help them to live independently. Teams of dedicated volunteers help new tenants to decorate their home; run cooking classes; and work alongside clients in allotments. The social and practical support addresses isolation, increases clients’ confidence, and gives people the chance to expand their social networks through interacting with volunteers.

Training Initiative: This is an employability programme for unemployed people to gain work experience, new skills and qualifications, and help to find a job on completion.

Why should Fresh Start receive a donation from the Good Neighbour programme?

For many people moving into a new tenancy after homelessness, it is a very daunting and stressful time. People move into empty shells with little money or social support from friends/family. Most people struggle to afford to buy all the things they need, and either have to go without or get into debt to access them. There is little help available from the Council, so people rely on the provision of goods by Fresh Start – 63% of clients said they would have had to go without the items if they had not received help. The visiting support for people to learn the skills to live independently in their homes and resettle in the community has also been drastically cut this year. The services from Fresh Start allow this gap to be met, for clients to learn life skills and reducing their social isolation. Clients gain a hugely positive experience from working with volunteers instead of paid workers. 94% of clients last year said they had gained new skills (in decorating, cooking and allotments) and 100% of decorating clients said their house now felt like a home. 86% of people said being involved had increased their self-confidence and 83% said taking part had helped them to socialise and feel more a part of their community.

What could Fresh Start use the money for?

The Helping Hands project delivers social and practical support services to people living in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh. Craigmillar is an area of multiple deprivation where many new tenants are housed, and Fresh Start recognised there was a need for support to help isolated tenants get involved in the local community as well as learn important new life skills, about fresh food/healthy eating and maintaining a home. The project provides decorating support to 40 new tenants, runs cooking classes for 30 local people and has an allotment for people to volunteer in. All the services are delivered by volunteers, allowing clients’ self-esteem to grow by working alongside them. Clients are encouraged to become volunteers themselves, offering peer support to other isolated new tenants. While the service is delivered by volunteers, there are many costs, including: fuel for the van to transport the decorating teams; paint and other materials; food for the cooking classes; equipment for the allotment; and volunteer expenses. Money from Good Neighbour would make a real difference to paying for the service’s costs so volunteers can do the important work of giving social and practical support.