Our Vision & Beliefs
Joel's main vision is to transform the lives of vulnerable and needy people facing homelessness in the Kingston Borough, by providing safe sanctuary and tailored support within a loving community. To achieve our mission, we have built a permanent 17-bed night shelter offering a bed for the night, wholesome, home-cooked meals around a shared table, laundry facilities and one-to-one support from expert staff. What sets Joel apart is that our guests are part of a caring community; we believe that this is critically important in breaking the cycle of homelessness and isolation.
We also believe that every person is shaped and formed in the image of God and therefore deserves dignity and respect. Our guests themselves show tremendous courage in the face of extremely tough circumstances and work with us patiently and purposefully to overcome the odds. As a result the Joel community is flourishing community that helps transform lives every week, thanks in no small part to the tireless efforts of our amazing team of staff and volunteers!
Kingston upon Thames is seen as a very affluent area, however there are pockets of extreme deprivation. The Cambridge Estate, a stone’s throw away from the Joel Centre, has been ranked in the top 20% of the most deprived areas in the country and Kingston is among the 25 worst hotspots for homelessness in the UK. There are many people right on our doorstep facing extreme hardship, particularly single people.
The Bias Against Single People
According to official government data it is estimated that more than 300,000 people are sleeping rough or staying in temporary housing such as B&Bs or hostels but experts believes that this figure could be a lot higher. Local councils consider single people to have much lower priority housing needs than people with children. Therefore, when hit by a crisis, single people are much more likely to experience homelessness, especially in an area of high-cost housing where renting is often only an option for families or partnerships with more than one income. Increasing numbers of single people end up “sofa surfing" and become trapped in so-called 'hidden homelessness' which is not included in the government statistics.
For many single people, the prospect of obtaining and maintaining a home in the present climate is virtually impossible in the Kingston Borough where rents and house prices are more than double the average for England and Wales. Throw in the loss of a job or relationship and it is no surprise that the pressures and burdens often multiply to the point of breakdown, isolation, mental illness and ultimately homelessness.
The Joel Night Shelter can help catch those who are falling through the net, and provide a welcome respite from the isolation that can exacerbate mental health and addiction problems. However, the options for moving on to a place of safety, sanctuary and hope is very limited. People often end up in isolated hostel spaces without the normal daily routines and disciplines of life and are charged inflated prices for the privilege. Starting from such an inflated level makes getting back into work and ‘normal life’ both debilitating and prohibitive.
The Way Forward!
We believe that purpose-designed, community-focused housing could help us tackle a myriad of problems in society caused by vulnerable people living in isolation. It would also save this country a huge amount of expense, rather than the current trend of developing expensive, individual, isolated dwellings. At the same time, it would put those who find themselves homeless back into a normal routine and an environment that would enhance and inspire their daily living. It is our hope that Joel can point the way towards a kinder, more equitable way of life, free of the scourge of isolation and homelessness.