Rise And Shine the Modern Day Signposting Service, is a signposting service with a difference.
The following has been written by former homeless man based in Hailsham who, having been given the opportunity to turn his life around, is now helping others in need.
Christopher Bedford, 26, who has spent the majority of his life homeless is working with the town’s council and Chamber of Commerce to arrange a designated out of hours office to provide local homeless with essential help and support. The project is expected to cost £3,500, per year which is hoped to be raised through donations.
“We aim to assist people in need to services via a 1-2-1 peer support and mentoring.
“We signpost people to further services based on their criteria and work with them and their referred services to create a new direction and understanding based on their options around them. Key-working sessions are built around a re-education of life scheme so that a person can then learn how to manage their life for a more positive future.
“Rise and Shine’s sole aim is to help assist people in need. There are so many situations on which some people have to face and a large majority of people can’t manage by themselves, family breakdowns, homelessness, no money.
“Each person has their own problem, but sometimes the key to someone’s issue doesn’t just lie with a quick meeting. We try to engage with somebody on a more personal level, so we can help somebody according to their need and not just that of what a service offers we want to show people how to become practical also how to remove those bad thoughts and become more positive.
“I set up Rise and Shine together with Chris and my partner, Claire, in the hope of assisting people who were in need out of normal office hours. We first developed and piloted our idea back in November of 2016 and in April 2017. We moved forward in creating a social media and web based outreach service @riseandshinesignpost.
“Rise and Shine was created based on my own experience of homelessness and crisis. Since my teenage years me and my mum would constantly battle, I was what some would describe as a tearaway, and because of this relationship breakdown between me and my mum I became homeless very early on in life and unfortunately because I was young and vulnerable, I was easily led by elders of the homeless community and I quickly became mixed up with drugs, drink and crime. Because of my age and my situation any services I attended all I heard was “Sorry sir, you are a non-priority”. It became very difficult having to adapt to being an adult as well as trying to survive on the streets as an addict. The truth is in those moments of feeling high I felt happy, no matter even when I did get help and assistance without the correct support for me I was still pushed back to the streets, with no support. When I eventually did get somewhere because I had never had any life skills I found it somewhat difficult to keep it.
“Eventually I ended up In and out of prison and hospitals from trying to take my own life and this still didn’t work. Now seeing my life back then I was just a confused kid, I tried so many hostels so many places, Night Shelters none were what I needed. After all the trial and error of trying to get help I ended up on the streets for a while.
“And this time I chose it! Homelessness became easier as I grew older into late teenager but being young like I was I found myself in some truly terrible situations. It’s like I couldn’t determine where was safe to go, or to do or what wasn’t and this unfortunately lead me to have been sexually assaulted, held at gunpoint against my will and on top of all this I was abused verbally and physically on a daily basis, I had possessions stolen all for being homeless!
“I chose my path back then and now in the future the fear that I experienced with the barrel of a gun it haunts me. My experiences has made me and my partner realise that we want to try and help make a difference.
“People just need stability and a bit of hope (love), if somebody had been my contact and my support on a personal level I am sure I wouldn’t have been in some of the situations I had or even felt what I had.
“Rise And Shine is a non constituted group which was first established in April 2017 and our Services differ from person to person as it is very difficult to mould a service for individuals that have so many different situations occur in their lives, we follow a key-working structure which is used by Sussex mental health and drug and alcohol services and it also using a guide following a rehabilitation of offenders program displayed by Probation.
“Our key-working packs enable us to be able to record an individual’s personal achievements and developments as they work with us as a service. We try to help identity the negative thoughts in which bring a person to be in a cycle of poverty and homelessness and we help retrain an individual with encouragement around structure and routine, with an element of 121 peer mentoring and guidance.
“Rise and shine’s main primary objective is to assist people in need, we believe strongly in no judgement, no priority no criteria as everyone needs help sometimes.
“Our service has been running for about 12 months in which we have helped assist around 15 people through our key-working structure and supported over 80 people in need through advice support and basic needs of day to day living. Since establishing we have been operating from our home address in Hailsham.
“We have been meeting individuals via outreach and attending to a person to a place more convenient for them.
“Our service support is much needed and our future plans are to develop a place to work from in Hailsham where we can help outreach to more people in need and make our service more accessible for those who currently who are in crisis.
“As we move forward with modern day life with vehicles when it becomes outdated it ends up on the scrap pile at the local junk yard. Our future plan is to up cycle an old retired double decker bus into a crisis access and drop in centre for people in need, we intend to have on board facilities to help people in need meet their day to day needs of personal hygiene and also offer support when services are stretched or unavailable to someone in need.
“We are currently fundraising to help us with the purchase of the bus and we need you, the more people we have on board the more chance we can make a difference and help those in need.”
More on Rise & Shine: https://wp.me/p9QdZd-x4
To find out more, contact Christopher on Facebook @riseandshinesignpost