What We Do
Our guests have often suffered traumatic life events, such as family breakdown, which can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance misuse, or the deepening of mental health issues such as depression or insomnia. They are also recovering from the devastating effects of isolation and rejection that people experience during homelessness. Our ethos is to ‘Help People to Believe in Themselves' - we carry this out by offering one-to-one therapy and support. We also offer opportunities to learn life skills and for voluntary work to help guests feel accepted into the wider community.
Tailored 1-2-1 Support
A critical part of our work in the Joel Centre is to give tailored help to individual guests such as Psycho-Social Intervention. The aim is to help maintain good mental health and well-being by looking at issues such as substance misuse, addictive behavior, family issues and past trauma. The therapy focuses on new ways of thinking and improved communication, managing emotions, relapse prevention, physical activity and nutrition.
The team also offer one-to-one support around budgeting, plans for the day, gaining access to relevant appointments or services, helping with paperwork and reviewing progress. Staff members are also on hand to support guests at health care and housing appointments or court appearances.
The Joel Community’s central ethos is to help people to believe in themselves. We also subscribe to the ‘Good Lives Model’ – i.e every hour spent engaged in a healthy, purposeful activity is an hour not wasted on the opposite which is why we offer many opportunities to help raise self esteem and develop life skills.
Daily Chores & Routines
All guests are on a rota to lay the table, clear away and wash up at the end of mealtimes. There is also a rota to clean common areas such as bedrooms, bathrooms and the kitchen which have to be kept very clean.
Although guests are not often involved in the preparation of mealtimes on a daily basis, we run a Cook and Eat Programme which equips them with the preparation skills and confidence to create home-cooked, nutritious meals from scratch . Guests learn how to follow a basic recipe, measure quantities and cook on a budget. At the end of the six week programme they can sit an exam and if successful, receive a Level 2 City & Guilds Food Safety and Hygiene certificate.
The Weekly Community Meeting is a vital part of life in the Joel Night Shelter. Facilitated by staff, at the meetings guests are encouraged to air their views and concerns with each other and learn how to communicate in a positive manner with their peers. This is a skill guests can take with them when they go into employment and move into shared housing.
Guests are encouraged to take part in regular volunteer work at St Peter’s church or in the local community - helping them to develop organisational and social skills. A small team, led by a guest who is a former chef, have been involved in helping run a church meal for Senior Citizens who are experiencing isolation. Guests take responsibility for all of the details including setting up the church, welcoming and socialising with the senior citizens. They are also in charge of budgeting, meal-planning, shopping and cooking for the event as well as regularly catering for Joel Community training events and celebrations.
Teams of guests are also invited into churches to host the refreshments at Sunday services or weekday events. These opportunities help to bridge the gap between our community and our neighbours and we see a significant improvement in the self-esteem of our guests.
Health & Well Being
Guests are encouraged to get involved in helping to tend the year-round vegetable garden at Joel which has raised beds for growing fruit and vegetables. Shelter Manager Dan Wheeler says gardening is exceptionally therapeutic, "Gardening teaches us patience and there is a neuro-chemical interaction when you put your hands in soil that is extremely beneficial. It's wonderful to be so directly involved with the beauty of God's creation. You also get to eat what you grow, which is the icing on the cake for our guests!"
Colets Health and Fitness in Thames Ditton have enabled us to bring guests from Joel to use their gym once a week. Dan says, the difference it has made to one guest's health and well-being is quite remarkable, "Our guest was in quite poor physical shape when he arrived at Joel but now look at him! Thanks to nutritious meals and exercise his overall health and well-being has improved dramatically!"
Each week Wendy Morris, Librarian at Kingston University visits Joel to run the Joel Community Book Club. Wendy set this up after inviting the Joel Community to join in with Kingston University's 'Big Read' (a university-wide initiative in which all new students are sent a copy of the same book to help them feel welcome). As part of the Big Read, the Joel Community has even had visits from authors such as Kit De Waal and Matt Haig who’ve come to talk about their books.
Shelter Manager Dan says, "Book club is one of the most important things that we offer to guests. The act of turning a page in a real book is a very visceral and therapeutic experience - even the smell of a book can fire synapses in the brain that otherwise would not light up if reading a book online. The books we read often have story lines that bring up issues that are relevant to our guests, such as the break-down of relationships, abuse and neglect. We are able to discuss these issues as a community in a safe and loving environment which can help kick-start the healing process."
Jeffrey Vanek, one of our longest-standing guests won a ’Specialist Achievement Award’ from Kingston-based Kick-It for his services as a Smoking Cessation Counsellor. Jeffrey even went on to help Dan Wheeler stop smoking towards the end 2017!
Arts & Crafts
Members of the Joel Community are encouraged to flex their creative muscles and find holistic solutions to the challenges they are facing. This boosts health and well-being as well as increasing self-confidence. Guests have helped to create beautiful 3-D paper Valentines cards and felt owls for a craft stall at Surbiton Farmer's Market.
One of our guests who had painful arthritic joints began paper-straw weaving as a therapeutic hobby. When Joel was invited to exhibit at the New Malden Christmas Tree Festival she jumped at the chance to create beautiful, hand-woven and painted Christmas decorations to be given out in exchange for a small donation to Joel. Visitors were fascinated to watch her roll paper straws out of recycled Argos catalogues and weave beautiful decorations before their eyes!