Big Breakfast Plus awarded £3,000 in OPCC grant funding through Wiltshire Community Foundation

by | Oct 28, 2018 | General News, Homelessness

Big Breakfast Plus is delighted to announce that we have secured £3,000 in grant funding from the Office of Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) grant programme, through Wiltshire Community Foundation.

The OPCC & High Sheriff Awards programme supports projects which bring communities together to tackle local issues, improving trust and understanding within the community. The programme is particularly interested in supporting projects which offer a new or innovative approach across six key areas:

  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Crime in local neighbourhoods
  • Drug and alcohol related crime
  • Reducing re-offending
  • Violence against women and girls
  • Youth crime

Big Breakfast Plus met several of the grant funding criteria with an application that highlighted how our service makes a real difference to the lives of homeless people in Swindon.

As well as serving a free cooked breakfast 7 days a week, Big Breakfast Plus provides a safe place for outreach and support works from partner agencies to offer holistic support for underlying issues such as unemployment, benefit claims and debt, physical and mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction as well as homelessness.

Just as important, our communal breakfast offers a brief period of stability and social interaction for guests whose chaotic lives can lead to isolation and despair, alongside a choice of menu when they have little or no choice in their lives.

One of our guests recently said:

“I look forward to coming here, it’s nice to have a chat…I like seeing the same faces, it’s a social thing too.”

Our service has a real and lasting impact on guests, evidenced by this comment from a former guest, who recently became a regular donor to Big Breakfast Plus:

“Years ago, breakfast for the homeless kept me alive. I went there every day until I was too old to go* (26). Really great to see it still going! Well done!”

*There is no longer any age limit for our service.

Thinking outside the box

Big Breakfast Plus is supported by 3 part-time members of staff, 8 trustees and 28 volunteers. As a charity that has supported and served the homeless in Swindon since 1993, we are always looking for new and innovative approaches to support our guests and work with partner agencies, including:

  • Welcoming partner voluntary organisations on a regular basis especially Threshold Housing Link’s Outreach workers and Swindon Night Shelter.
  • Encouraging statutory agencies to “think outside the box” and engage with rough sleepers outside normal office hours in a safe, informal environment at breakfast when they’re most amenable, more likely to be sober and/or not under influence of drugs.
  • Setting up and coordinating Homeless Organisations Standing Together in Swindon (HOSTS), a network of organisations and individuals supporting the homeless to work more collaboratively and avoid duplication. HOSTS is also central to preparations for the new Day Centre and Temporary Winter Housing Provision.
  • Some of our guests have catering or work experience and offer their time as volunteers to support our service. This includes the successful ‘Volunteering Sundays’ initiative which sees guests put on an apron and roll up their sleeves to cook for and serve other guests, supported by Project Coordinator Jo Heaven. Guests have also volunteered to litter-pick in the Broadgreen area to counter stigma and discourage anti-social behaviour.
  • Alongside this, one guest regularly acts as translator for the Polish, Czech and Romanian guests. Guests have also been involved in mediating with others to support peacekeeping, helping with access to benefits (while seeking advice from the Project Coordinator and other agencies) and assisting in the deep clean of the store room alongside Nationwide volunteers.
  • Volunteering encourages stability and routine, encourages accountability and improves skills.

As well as encouraging our guests to volunteer, Big Breakfast Plus has also expanded community volunteering opportunities to strengthen and improve relationships with the local community. With support from Project Coordinator Jo, our volunteer base has grown from 13 to 28 over the past year and includes a hairdresser who holds regular sessions for our guests.

Next Steps

Statistically, the need for our service is greater than ever. We served breakfast to over 530 different individuals during the year October 2017 to the end of September 2018. The rise in the number of people sleeping rough in Swindon has exceeded national trends. Following the official street count in November 2017 it stood at 45 (up 62% on 2016 i.e. more than 4 times the national annual increase of 15%). The roll out of Universal Credit, delays in processing benefit claims, lack of affordable housing and the difficulty of sustaining a tenancy in the face of rent increases or affording the deposit and advance rent for private tenancies, are all contributing factors.

We are incredibly grateful to the OPPC & High Sheriff Awards grants programme and Wiltshire Community Foundation for recognising the need for our service. This grant will cover a portion of our Project Coordinator’s salary and will allow us to continue developing Big Breakfast Plus for the benefit of our guests and the wider community including:

  • More one-to-one time to support and build relationships with our guests, help to address their needs and make appropriate referrals, where needed.
  • Expanding our volunteer base to include the ‘Cuppa and a chat’ initiative which involves volunteers sitting with guests to socialise and connect over a cup of tea, helping to alleviate loneliness and seeing the person behind the label.
  • Recruiting new volunteers to support cooking, shopping, food donations, admin and IT support and ongoing reporting.
  • Encouraging more guests to volunteer and supporting them to gain food hygiene qualifications to improve skills and build confidence.
  • Holding regular meetings with guests and stakeholders, giving them a chance to feedback and improve our service, including ‘You Said We Did’ actions as a result of feedback received.
  • Identifying new sources of food donation to reduce our ongoing food bill.
  • Improving reporting to demonstrate our impact.

On behalf of guests, staff, volunteers and trustees at Big Breakfast Plus, we welcome this funding and thank you for your contribution to the continued success story of Big Breakfast Plus.

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